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General sound map

Recordings of background atmospheres and incidental noises from all over London. Some form part of a sound grid series recorded at evenly-spaced points across the city, each marking the centre of a square on the map below.

1 3 5
2 4 3 3 11
1 1 1 1 6 5 7 16 21 3 18 1 1
2 8 22 11 3 5 5 17 5 4 2 1 4 1  
3 11 4 7 9 6 25 39 21 38 8 1 5    
1 3 5 7 5 48 42 56 38 11 8 3 2
1 1 2 7 6 15 8 40 15 5 1 1 4
1 1 41 2 8 4 1 9 7 1 1
3 4 3 7 1 3 5 2  
6 1 20 6 1 3 1 1
1 1 2 1 1
1 1

Above: graphic based on a daytime satellite image courtesy of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center. Each red grid square is 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers across.

East Lane HA9 July 2:00

Grid square: Wembley, Neasden, Harlesden

Recording date: 15 July 2013

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Junction of East Lane and Preston Road, Wembley, north-west London.

Description: Loud traffic passing through the junction and stopping at traffic lights, voices of adult and juvenile passersby, music from cars.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Grand Union Park Royal 1:00

Grid square: Wembley, Harlesden, Neasden

Recording date: 13 August 2011

Time of day: 1.25pm

Location: By the Abbey Road bridge, Park Royal, northwest London.

Description: Loud honking and whistling of a geese as they swim close by on the canal.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

River Brent Alperton 1:00

Grid square: Wembley, Harlesden, Neasden

Recording date: 6 August 2011

Time of day: 1.35pm

Location: Queensbury Road, Alperton, northwest London.

Description: Patter of rain falling on foliage, traffic on the North Circular Road with siren, noise from an aircon unit or fume extractor, metallic hammering sounds.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

River Brent Barnhill 1:00

Grid square: Wembley, Harlesden, Neasden

Recording date: 6 August 2011

Time of day: 11.25am

Location: Recreation ground off Barnhill Road, northwest London.

Description: The Brent passes through a concrete culvert under a footbridge, distant traffic with siren, a train passes through Neasden Depot, birdsong.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Willesden Junction at dawn 2:30

Grid square: Wembley, Neasden, Harlesden

Recording date: 25 February 2011

Time of day: 6am

Location: Footbridge at Willesden Junction station, northwest London.

Description: Sounds of bulldozers at work in the Hythe Road industrial estate to the south. A train passes under the footbridge, heading east.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4025 mic and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Harlesden High Street at night 3:30

Grid square: Wembley, Neasden, Harlesden

Recording date: 26 January 2011

Time of day: 9.30pm

Location: Walking northwards along Harlesden High Street.

Description: Street sounds including passing cars and buses, voices of passersby and people waiting at a bus stop.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Royal Oak pub Harlesden 1:50

Grid square: Wembley, Neasden, Harlesden

Recording date: 26 January 2011

Time of day: 9pm

Location: Royal Oak pub, junction of Park Parade and Harlesden High Street.

Description: Ambience in an 'old man's pub', with background music, voices of customers, and sounds of a domino match in progress.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x MM-HLSO/Sennheiser MKE-2 mics and Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Neasden Ikea 1:00

Grid square: Wembley, Neasden, Harlesden

Recording date: 25 October 2009

Time of day: Around 4pm

Location: Neasden branch of Ikea furniture store, north-west London

Description: Recorded while walking around inside: a store announcement beginning with three chimes, voices of customers speaking in various languages.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. Sonic Studios DSM-6S/EH mics and PA-3SX preamp, Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2043 8447 1:00

Grid square: Wembley, Neasden, Harlesden

Recording date: 17 February 2009

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: OS reference TQ 2043 8447. By the side of an unnamed stream, off Conduit Way, near the North Circular.

Description: Constant traffic rumble from the North Circular with lorry horn and sirens, faint birdsong.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics. Olympus LS-10 digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

About general sound map recordings

The majority of recordings on the general sound map are simply of curious or distinctive sounds heard around London. Some also appear elsewhere as part of the 12 Tones of London statistical recording project, and here are subsumed into their appropriate grid squares.

These kinds of recordings always have descriptive file names which don't require any further explanation. But just over a hundred others have ones consisting only of the letters 'TQ' followed by eight digits. These are the Ordnance Survey co-ordinates marking the exact centre of each of the sound map's 112 grid squares, and so these file names tell you with some precision where the recordings were made. Reaching each point was done with the help of a GPS receiver and a willingness to scramble over fences and run onto golf courses. The contents of those recordings are summarised in the graphic below:

The key on the left-hand side shows the most common sound categories encountered. The louder a particular sound type encountered at the centre of a grid square, the darker its icon. More than one icon of the same kind means that sound takes up more of the recording's length. Despite the wide spacing of the recording points and the brief duration of the sound files, they seem to do a reasonable job of plotting in outline the common or persistent sound types heard around London during the daytime.