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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.

Grand Union Southall 1:00

Grid square: Southall, Norwood Green

Recording date: 14 August 2011

Time of day: 10.30am

Location: By the Grand Union Canal near Beaconsfield Road, Southall, west London.

Description: Sound of a distant marching band with drum and brass instruments, traffic, the wind stirs nearby foliage, 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.

Grand Union Norwood Top Lock 1:00

Grid square: Southall, Norwood Green

Recording date: 14 August 2011

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Off Havelock Road, opposite Norwood Green, west London.

Description: Trickle of water close by as it pours from a drain into the canal, louder rushing of water from the lock gates, indistinct voices of passersby.

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.

Grand Union Brookside 1:00

Grid square: Southall, Norwood Green

Recording date: 13 August 2011

Time of day: 4.10pm

Location: By a small sports ground north of Southall, opposite Brookside, west London.

Description: Ducks splashing in the canal, a coot calls, voices of children and youths at play in the sports ground, distant traffic.

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.

The Broadway Southall 2:14

Grid square: Southall, Norwood Green

Recording date: 25 July 2009

Time of day: 1.00pm

Location: Walking eastwards along The Broadway, Southall, west London.

Description: Street sounds on a Saturday afternoon walking along The Broadway, the main shopping street in Southall. Sounds of recorded music from several different shops, brief noises made by a tray of toys, voices of shoppers and pedestrians, and vehicles.

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 1250 8067 1:00

Grid square: Southall, Norwood Green

Recording date: 5 June 2009

Time of day: 1.10pm

Location: OS reference TQ 1250 8067. Junction of West Avenue and South Avenue.

Description: Footsteps in the street, clattering noises somewhere further away, a car and a van drive past, two men talk quietly as they walk by, faint birdsong.

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