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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.

Ealing Broadway voices 1:00

Grid square: Hanwell, Ealing

Recording date: 28 July 2012

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Ealing Broadway shopping centre, west London.

Description: Voices and footsteps of shoppers in a partly-covered courtyard in the shopping centre.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

River Brent Osterley Lock 1:00

Grid square: Hanwell, Ealing

Recording date: 6 August 2011

Time of day: 5.20pm

Location: Osterley Lock by Elthorne Park, west London.

Description: Water rushes through small gaps in the lock gates, constant traffic on the M4 motorway.

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 Brent Wharncliff Viaduct 1:00

Grid square: Hanwell, Ealing

Recording date: 6 August 2011

Time of day: 4.40pm

Location: Facing the Wharncliff Viaduct in Churchfields recreation ground, Hanwell.

Description: Trickling of the Brent, a dog splashes in the river, a train passes along the Wharncliff Viaduct, 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 Brent Marnham Field 1:00

Grid square: Hanwell, Ealing

Recording date: 6 August 2011

Time of day: 4.15pm

Location: By Brent Valley Park and Marnham Field, west London.

Description: Trickling of the Brent, birdsong close by, faint traffic in distance.

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 Brent Greenford Bridge 1:00

Grid square: Hanwell, Ealing

Recording date: 6 August 2011

Time of day: 4pm

Location: By the Brent immediately south of Greenford Bridge and Ruislip Road, west London.

Description: A crow caws, sounds from a large amateur footballing event at an adjacent sports ground, with voices, referee's whistle, announcement over tannoy.

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 Brent Pitshanger Park 1:00

Grid square: Hanwell, Ealing

Recording date: 6 August 2011

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Pitshanger Park facing Ealing Golf Course, northwest London.

Description: Trickling of the Brent, traffic on the North Circular Road, voices of children at play in the park, bird calls, aircraft drone.

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 1647 8067 1:00

Grid square: Hanwell, Ealing

Recording date: 5 June 2009

Time of day: 1.45pm

Location: OS grid reference TQ 1647 8067. Waitrose car park, off Alexandria Road.

Description: Clattering of supermarket trolleys being pushed about in the car park, voices of staff hanging around the entrance giving away breakfast cereal samples, cars drive slowly past, a train rushes by towards Heathrow.

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.