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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.

Tomlins Grove E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 3.50pm

Location: Halfway along Tomlin's Grove, east London.

Description: Constant traffic on Bow Road, faint birdsong, indistinct voices in distance, footsteps of a passerby, the wind stirs foliage, airplane drone, two vehicles with sirens pass along Bow Road, airplane drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Eleanor Street E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 3.35pm

Location: Immediately to the south of the railway bridge crossing Eleanor Street, east London.

Description: Banging noises as a truck is unloaded nearby, loud cooing of pigeons roosting beneath the railway bridge, distant cries of children, distant traffic, an Underground train passes slowly by, a van drives past close by.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Arnold Road E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 4.50pm

Location: Arnold Road west of the railway viaduct, Bromley-by-Bow.

Description: Noises of sanding or grinding and hammering from garages along Arnold Road, voices of men working in the garages, a car drives past, aircraft drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

British Street E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 4.40pm

Location: British Street opposite the surgery, Mile End.

Description: Mile End Road traffic, aircraft drone, occasional sounds from nearby flats lining British Street, faint footsteps and voices.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Brokesley Street E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 4.35pm

Location: Brokesley Street at junction with Mile End Road.

Description: Loud traffic passing along Mile End Road, voices of passersby, a nearby shopkeeper pulls apart cardboard packaging, a woman's jewellery jingles as she walks past.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Victoria Park in September 4:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 24 September 2013

Time of day: 9.35am

Location: By the Burdett-Coutts memorial, Victoria Park, Hackney.

Description: Rumble of distant traffic, two Heathrow-bound planes fly overhead in succession, voices of children from the playground of a primary school.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Thanks to Nick Hamilton.

Mare Street Hackney 1:29

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 20 October 2012

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Mare Street north of Hackney Central station.

Description: A bus drives past, voices and footsteps of passersby, faint music from shops.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Dredger on River Lea 1:15

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 11 November 2004

Time of day: 11am

Location: River Lea, Bow.

Description: Noise of the dredger at work, hammering, calls of a coot.

Technical guff: Stereo. Equipment unknown.

Recorded by: Richard Beard

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Beard for sharing this recording.

Regents Canal Victoria Park 1:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 9 July 2011

Time of day: 11am

Location: By the Regent's Canal at Victoria Park, Hackney, east London.

Description: Loud birdsong from nearby trees and buddleia bushes, traffic in background, a bicycle passes making a noise on loose concrete paving slabs.

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 Cambridge Heath Road 1:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 9 July 2011

Time of day: 11.20am

Location: Under the Cambridge Heath Road bridge crossing the Regent's Canal, Hackney, east London.

Description: Passing footsteps, traffic from Cambridge Heath Road, calls from a coot, voices and sounds from a nearby building site, joggers run past.

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 Wennington Green 1:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 9 July 2011

Time of day: 10.20am

Location: By the Regent's Canal at Wennington Green, east London.

Description: Noises and voices from a building site, a man jogs past with a dog on a chain, distant traffic.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA2006C mics, Sound Devices MixPre-D preamp, Sony PCM M10 recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Yarn shop spinning wheel 0:14

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 26 August 2010

Time of day: Not known

Location: Prick Your Finger yarn shop, Globe Road, Bethnal Green.

Description: Squeaking and rattling of a spinning wheel in use.

Technical guff: Stereo. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder, internal mics.

Recorded by: Felicity Ford

Additional notes: Many thanks to Felicity Ford for sharing this. Visit The Domestic Soundscape blog for more of her sound recordings and writings on sound art, field recording, and wool-related matters.

Yarn shop ballwinder 0:14

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 26 August 2010

Time of day: Not known

Location: Prick Your Finger yarn shop, Globe Road, Bethnal Green.

Description: Creaking sound of a ballwinder, a device for turning a loose ring or 'hank' of yarn into a tight ball.

Technical guff: Stereo. Edirol R09-HR digital recorder, internal mics.

Recorded by: Felicity Ford

Additional notes: Many thanks to Felicity Ford for sharing this. Visit The Domestic Soundscape blog for more of her sound recordings and writings on sound art, field recording, and wool-related matters.

Bethnal Green Library 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 5 June 2010

Time of day: 1pm

Location: Bethnal Green Library, Cambridge Heath Road, east London.

Description: Sounds of library staff going about their work, a child laughs, air conditioning hum, visitors typing at computer keyboards.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Bolt and the staff at the Bethnal Green Library

Idea Store Bow 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 29 May 2010

Time of day: 11am

Location: Idea Store Bow public library, Roman Road, east London.

Description: Faint voices of library staff and readers, footsteps, an alert tone sounds briefly, a staple gun clicks once.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Many thanks to Richard Bolt and the rest of the library staff at the Idea Store Bow.

Hackney Central Library 2:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 10 April 2010

Time of day: 12.30pm

Location: Inside Hackney Central Library, Mare Street.

Description: Ambience inside Hackney Central Library. Occasional bangs and coughs, voices, electronic beeps; to the left a man scribbles with enthusiasm onto a pad of paper.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Roman Road market 2:10

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 20 February 2010

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: Roman Road market, Hackney, east London

Description: Voices of shoppers and stallholders recorded while walking westwards along Roman Road street market.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Olympic construction site 1:30

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 2 November 2009

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: On the Greenway elevated path, near Pudding Mill Lane.

Description: Great din of earth movers, dumper trucks and machinery from all around at the 2012 Olympics construction site.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Hertford Union canal 1:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 2 November 2009

Time of day: 2pm

Location: On the towpath of the Hertford Union canal, beneath the Cadogan Terrace bridge.

Description: Loud traffic noise from the A12 bridge over the canal, rushing of water from nearby lock gates.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Pellici cafe Bethnal Green 2:23

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 2 October 2009

Time of day: 12:30pm

Location: Inside Pellici's cafe, Bethnal Green Road, east London.

Description: Lively, noisy atmosphere inside this popular traditional cafe. Hollow-sounding drone of the coffee machine, voices of customers and cafe staff, clattering of plates and cups, a member of staff asks an old man what he wants for lunch.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 3627 8447 1:00

Grid square: Hackney, Stratford, Bow

Recording date: 17 February 2009

Time of day: 3.20pm

Location: OS reference 3627 8447. East end of Victoria Park Road.

Description: A moped and other larger vehicles pass close by, faint birdsong from Victoria Park.

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.