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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.

River Beam The Chase 1:00

Grid square: Elm Park, Rainham

Recording date: 22 January 2012

Time of day: 12.45pm

Location: By the Chase, Eastbrookend Country Park.

Description: Trickling of the River Beam close by, a strong wind stirs trees in the park, faint voices.

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 Beam Eastbrookend 1:00

Grid square: Elm Park, Rainham

Recording date: 16 September 2011

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: Eastbrookend Country Park, Elm Park.

Description: The River Beam rushes over a small weir, banging and clattering of building work to the east.

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 Beam Valley Park 1:00

Grid square: Elm Park, Rainham

Recording date: 16 September 2011

Time of day: 1.20pm

Location: Beam Valley Park, East Dagenham.

Description: Constant traffic in background, noises from a nearby building site, faint airplane drone towards the end.

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 Beam Dagenham 1:00

Grid square: Elm Park, Rainham

Recording date: 16 September 2011

Time of day: 12.50pm

Location: Cortina Way off Dagenham Road.

Description: Loud constant traffic, a regular metallic clanging from the direction of the Ford Dagenham car factory.

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.

TQ 5211 8447 1:00

Grid square: Elm Park, Rainham

Recording date: 18 March 2008

Time of day: 12.45pm

Location: OS reference TQ 5211 8447. This point falls in the middle of the complex of buildings making up Scargill Junior and Infants School, and was effectively unreachable. The recording was made in a playing field about 300 yards due west of the grid point.

Description: About 150 yards away and more, schoolchildren play in their lunch hour and shout, scream, laugh and clap. Faint wind noise.

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.