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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.

Barking town centre market 4:00

Grid square: East Ham, Barking

Recording date: 5 September 2015

Time of day: 1.20pm

Location: Walking westwards along East Street, Barking.

Description: Voices, footsteps, recorded music playing from market stalls, occasional cries of market stallholders, noises from a toy stall, distant traffic, rustling of carrier bags.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Arboretum Place Barking 2:30

Grid square: East Ham, Barking, Ilford

Recording date: 5 September 2015

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: Middle of Arboretum Place, Barking.

Description: Voices of a group of youths echo inside the pedestrianised space of Arboretum Place, flanked by tall buildings. Distant sounds from Barking market, the wind stirs foliage on nearby trees, faint machine hum, footsteps.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Outside Barking station 2:00

Grid square: East Ham, Barking, Ilford

Recording date: 5 September 2015

Time of day: 1.10pm

Location: Station Parade outside Barking train station, east London.

Description: Constant traffic on Station Parade, voices in several different languages of passersby and people waiting outside the station, footsteps.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Barking Creek Cuckolds Haven 1:00

Grid square: East Ham, Barking, Ilford

Recording date: 30 November 2011

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Cuckold's Haven facing Hand Trough Creek, near Barking, east London.

Description: Constant traffic in the distance, a duck quacks, cries of seabirds, faint rushing sound from a weir on Barking Creek.

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 Roding Alders Brook 1:00

Grid square: East Ham, Barking, Ilford

Recording date: 15 September 2011

Time of day: 4.30pm

Location: By the Alders Brook next to the City of London cemetery, Ilford.

Description: A train passes westwards along a viaduct, distant traffic, 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.

River Roding Barking 1:00

Grid square: East Ham, Barking, Ilford

Recording date: 15 September 2011

Time of day: 3pm

Location: North of London Road by the Roding Trading Estate, Barking.

Description: Constant background traffic, faint birdsong, beeping sound from a lorry reversing.

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.

Barking Creek 1:15

Grid square: East Ham, Barking, Ilford

Recording date: 5 March 2011

Time of day: 7.30am

Location: Town Quay, Barking, overlooking Barking Creek.

Description: Saturday morning ambience by Barking Creek with bird calls and traffic.

Technical guff: X-Y stereo. Audio Technica BP4025 mic and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 4419 8447 1:00

Grid square: East Ham, Barking, Ilford

Recording date: 18 May 2008

Time of day: 11.20am

Location: OS reference TQ 4419 8447. Immediately south of the Northern Relief Road, near Barking town centre.

Description: Traffic noise from the Northern Relief Road and the yells of children in a nearby school playground. Two women talk as they go through an underpass. An empty crisp packet skitters along the ground close by.

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.