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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 4 4 1 1 4 1  
3 11 4 7 9 6 25 38 21 37 5 1 5    
1 3 5 7 5 48 40 51 38 11 8 3 2
1 1 2 7 6 15 8 40 15 5 1 1 4
1 1 23 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.

Monsell Road N4 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 3.10pm

Location: Monsell Road near junction with Plimsoll Road, Islington.

Description: A woman walks past carrying shopping, distant traffic, traffic passing along Monsell Road, birdsong, a woman coughs, a van passes slowly, footsteps, airplane drone.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Quill Street south N4 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 3pm

Location: South end of Quill Street, Islington.

Description: Voices of two women on a balcony nearby, a car door is slammed, a moped and a bus pass along St Thomas's Road, birdsong, footsteps, distant traffic, children's and a man's voice towards end, a van drives past.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Highbury Square N5 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: In the middle of the Highbury Square housing development, Islington.

Description: Distant traffic, voices and footsteps of residents walking past, hollow banging sounds and the noise of glass bottles being disposed of, distant traffic, the wind stirs nearby foliage and ground litter, airplane drone.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Conewood Street N5 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: Midway along Conewood Street, Islington.

Description: Airplane drone, voices of children in a nearby school, van doors slam loudly, birdsong, a woman pushes a buggy past, footsteps, a car passes.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Jack Walker Court N5 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 1.05pm

Location: Jack Walker Court off Panmure Close, Islington.

Description: Distant traffic, birdsong, music playing and an infant crying in nearby flats, clatter of cutlery, airplane drone, a distant emergency services siren.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Hamilton Park N5 June IM Rawes

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 1pm

Location: Midway along Hamilton Park, Islington.

Description: Airplane drone, a magpie chatters, birdsong, the wind stirs nearby foliage, footsteps of a passerby, distant traffic, a distant emergency services siren, voices heard briefly in the distance, a car pulls up close by before turning and driving away.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Highbury Hill N5 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 12.45pm

Location: Midway along the southern arm of Highbury Hill, Islington.

Description: Frequent traffic passing along Highbury Hill, voices of children from a nearby school, airplane drone, footsteps of a passerby, a lorry passes with its load jolting in the back.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Martineau Road N5 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 12.40pm

Location: Entrance to Martineau Mews on Martineau Road, Islington.

Description: Traffic passing along Martineau Road given a reverberant quality in the covered entrance to Martineau Mews, footsteps, indistinct music, a man and a woman speak together quietly, an electronic beeping followed by a knocking sound, birdsong.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Queensland Road N7 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Towards eastern end of Queensland Road, Islington.

Description: Distant traffic, constant noise of air conditioning units, a car and a cyclist pass, slamming of car doors, a car engine starts and idles, footsteps of passersby, an indistinct voice towards the end.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Courtney Court N7 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 12.20pm

Location: Courtney Court off Courtney Road, Islington.

Description: Airplane drone, distant traffic, occasional footsteps and sounds of desultory activity close by, a car door is slammed, birdsong, a woman's voice is heard briefly and faintly, an emergency services siren approaches from the distance.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Arsenal stadium west June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 12.15pm

Location: Plaza on the west side of Arsenal Emirates stadium, Islington.

Description: Loud traffic on Hornsey Road, voices and footsteps of passersby including a party of schoolchildren, occasional rustle of carrier bags, music from passing cars.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Rollit Street N7 June 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 25 June 2015

Time of day: 12.10pm

Location: South end of Rollit Street, Islington.

Description: Loud traffic on Holloway Road, bangs and other reverberant sounds of building work close by, electronic beep of vehicle reversing, birdsong, an emergency services siren on Holloway Road.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Olympus LS-14 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Arsenal station N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 11.30am

Location: Just inside the ticket hall at Arsenal tube station, north London.

Description: Voices and footsteps of people leaving the station and loitering by the entrance, electronic beeps from the ticket barriers, occasional traffic passing along Gillespie Road, announcements over the station tannoy.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Danny Fiszman Bridge N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Middle of Danny Fiszman Bridge approaching Arsenal stadium, Drayton Park, north London.

Description: Loud sounds of building work with air compressor, drilling, hammering and scaffolding being put up, voices of a group of people walking past on the bridge.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Gillespie Road N5 November 2

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 11.35am

Location: Gillespie Road by junction with Avenell Road, Drayton Park, north London.

Description: Traffic passing along Gillespie Road, birdsong, airplane drone, a man lifts the roller shutter of a shop, a cyclist passes by, indistinct voices and laughter, a crow caws.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Elwood Street N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 11.45am

Location: Elwood Street outside Twyford House flats, Highbury, north London.

Description: Occasional passing traffic, raised voices of teacher and children from a school on the other side of the road, a crow caws, vehicle doors slammed in the mid-distance.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Blackstock Road N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 11.50am

Location: Blackstock Road near junction with Conewood Street, Highbury, north London.

Description: Loud traffic passing close by along Blackstock Road including cars, buses and lorries, a police car goes by while sounding its siren, voices and footsteps of passersby.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Loxford Gardens N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 11.55pm

Location: Inside Loxford Gardens gated housing development, Highbury, north London.

Description: Constant traffic on Blackstock Road, humming and rattling sounds from someone setting up a steam cleaner or pressure washer, airplane drone, distant sounds of building work.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Roseleigh Avenue N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 12.05pm

Location: Roseleigh Avenue near junction with Hamilton Park, north London.

Description: Constant traffic in the distance, loud airplane drone, footsteps, a faint rattling sound made by a repairman working on a house, faint birdsong, someone gets into a van and drives away.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Stavordale Road N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 12.20pm

Location: Halfway along Stavordale Road, Drayton Park, north London.

Description: Airplane drone, sounds of building work in the mid-distance with scaffolding being put up, footsteps, car doors slammed in the street.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ken Friar Bridge N5 November 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 18 November 2013

Time of day: 12.35pm

Location: On the Ken Friar footbridge immediately north of Arsenal Highbury stadium, north London.

Description: Voices of passersby, a constant machine hum fairly close by, more distant clanging sounds from a building site, rasp of a power tool.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Avenell Road N5 April 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: Outside Aubert Court flats, Avenell Road, north London.

Description: A car engine idles in a residential street and stops, slamming of doors, voices and footsteps of passersby, music from a nearby flat.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Highbury Park N5 April 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Walking north along Highbury Park from junction with Aubert Park, north London.

Description: Loud constant traffic, voices of passersby.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Gillespie Park N4 April 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Gillespie Park, near Arsenal tube, north London.

Description: Birdsong, distant aircraft drone, banging sounds from nearby railway sidings.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Harvist Estate N7 April 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 2.10pm

Location: Off Hornsey Road, Holloway, north London.

Description: Youths play basketball in a yard in the middle of the estate, a train rushes past along a viaduct, classical music heard from one of the flats, traffic, voices of passersby.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Highbury Hill N5 April 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: Highbury Hill near junction with Aubert Park, north London.

Description: Birdsong in a residential street, sounds of builders working on a house, occasional passing traffic.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Holloway Road N7 April 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 1pm

Location: Walking northwards along Holloway Road, north London, from the junction with Drayton Park.

Description: Constant loud traffic, voices of passing pedestrians, beeping of a road crossing.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Lowman Road N7 April 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 April 2013

Time of day: 1.20pm

Location: Junction of Lowman Road and Annette Road, Holloway, north London.

Description: Voices and footsteps of pedestrians in a residential street, a train rushes past in the distance.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Nags Head indoor market 2:23

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 October 2012

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Seven Sisters Road, Holloway.

Description: Recorded while walking around the indoor market arcades. Music from a record stall, voices of stallholders and their customers.

Technical guff: In-ear binaural stereo. Soundman OKM II Classic/Studio mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Holloway Road car boot sale 5:25

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 13 October 2012

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: Just off Holloway Road near junction with Seven Sisters Road.

Description: Voices of stallholders and their customers recorded while walking around the boot sale.

Technical guff: In-ear binaural stereo. Soundman OKM II Classic/Studio mics and Sony PCM-M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: EQ correction for inadvertently switching on the bass roll-off switch on the Soundman powering unit. Brief wind noise.

Highbury Fields voices 1:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 22 July 2012

Time of day: 5.45pm

Location: Highbury Fields, Islington, north London.

Description: Voices from a large number of people out enjoying the sunshine in Highbury Fields. Recorded while walking across the open space.

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.

Chapel Market Islington 1:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 9 April 2012

Time of day: 3.20pm

Location: Walking eastwards along Chapel Market, north London.

Description: Few stalls or shops are open on a wet Easter Monday. Vehicles, banging sounds from a stall being dismantled, shuffling footsteps and voices of passersby.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. Sound Professionals MS-TFB-2 mics and Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Outside Dalston Kingsland Road station at lunchtime 11:15

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 19 July 2011

Time of day: 12.20pm

Location: Kingsland High Street, Dalston, east London.

Description: Busy street sounds from a static recording spot with passing traffic, voices of market traders, street sellers and passersby.

Technical guff: Mono. iPhone with internal mic.

Recorded by: Shane/thehandthatclaps

Additional notes: Many thanks to Shane/thehandthatclaps for sharing this recording via SoundCloud. Listen to more of his field recordings at thehandthatclaps, featuring sounds from London and India.

Regents Canal De Beauvoir Town 1:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 9 July 2011

Time of day: 11.40am

Location: Near Baring Street, De Beauvoir Town.

Description: A canal narrowboat motors past, hissing noise from a car wash nearby, bird calls.

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.

Regents Canal City Road Basin 1:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 2 July 2011

Time of day: 5.25pm

Location: City Road Basin, east of Angel Islington, north London.

Description: Voices of men calling to each other across City Road Basin, sound of narrowboat's engine, traffic, 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.

Bookmakers Bethnal Green Road 2:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 20 February 2010

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Inside a bookmakers on Bethnal Green Road, east London.

Description: Racing commentators' voices from TV channels in the bookmakers, while customers talk among themselves.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ridley Road market 6:34

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 28 November 2009

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Ridley Road market, Dalston, east London.

Description: Recording made while walking slowly eastwards along the whole length of Ridley Road market. Stallholders' voices and cries, music from stalls and small shops.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 3231 8447 1:00

Grid square: Islington, Finsbury, Dalston

Recording date: 11 July 2009

Time of day: 11.30am

Location: OS grid reference TQ 3231 8447. Arran Walk, Canonbury.

Description: A street in a housing estate. A woman walks past, talking on her mobile phone. A crow caws, distant sounds of a bottle bank being emptied, a man cycles past, footsteps.

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