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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.

Rounton Road E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 4pm

Location: Rounton Road near junction with Eagling Close, east London.

Description: Traffic on Campbell Road, noises from nearby workshops, a train passes by along a viaduct, voices of children and adults walking past, airplane and helicopter drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Wellington Way E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 3.30pm

Location: Wellington Way by junction with Dimson Crescent, east London.

Description: Voices of children and adults from a nearby play area, distant traffic and occasional passing cars near by, faint birdsong, airplane and loud helicopter drone, voices of passersby.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some wind noise on recording.

Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Near the north-west corner of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, east London.

Description: Airplane drone, birdsong, a man calls out briefly in the distance, someone sneezes in the mid-distance, faint constant traffic, cawing of crows, helicopter drone, approaching footsteps.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Southern Grove E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Southern Grove, a short distance north from the junction with Hamlets Way, east London.

Description: Airplane drone, birdsong, distant traffic, footsteps of passersby, faint music in distance, sounds of desultory activity in the street, passing vehicles close by, a man speaks briefly with a child.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Bow Common Lane E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 2.50pm

Location: Bow Common Lane near junction with Portia Way, east London.

Description: Music from two different households (one directly north of the recording position, the other to the east), passing traffic, airplane and helicopter drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ursula Gould Way E14 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: Ursula Gould Way flats off Thomas Road, east London.

Description: Voices of children and adults echoing in the courtyard between two blocks of flats, traffic on Thomas Road, airplane drone, music from a flat's open window.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

St Pauls Way E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 2.15pm

Location: St Paul's Way near junction with Burgess Street, east London.

Description: Loud noise of traffic close by driving over a paved road surface, brief bursts of music from two passing cars, faint footsteps of passersby.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Shelmderdine Close E3 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 2.10pm

Location: North end of Shelmerdine Close, east London.

Description: Constant traffic in distance on St Paul's Way, the wind stirs foliage and makes detritus skitter along the ground, airplane drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: Some wind noise on recording.

Locksley Street E14 May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 1.50pm

Location: Locksley Street near junction with Clemence Street, east London.

Description: Traffic in mid-distance, voices of children in a nearby playground, a father and his children walk past talking, the wind stirs foliage, alarm calls of birds, airplane drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Mile End Park south May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 1.40pm

Location: South-west corner of Mile End Park near St Paul's Way, east London.

Description: Loud helicopter and airplane drone, traffic, faint voices and clattering noises from a skatepark, a metal gate is opened.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Mile End Park north May 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 30 May 2015

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: North end of Mile End Park near Mile End Road, east London.

Description: Constant traffic, airplane drone, a loud unvarying air-vent noise, voices of a group of teenagers nearby, helicopter drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Canary Wharf 3:10

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 12 March 2015

Time of day: 5.45pm

Location: Walking from Canary Wharf tube station towards North Colonnade, east London.

Description: A tube station busker plays Bob Dylan, sounds of the station escalators, voices and footsteps outdoors then inside a covered walkway.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Tidworth Road E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 5pm

Location: Tidworth Road between Archibald Street and Ireton Street, Mile End.

Description: Cars pass in quick succession along Tidworth Road, a train sounds its whistle, aircraft drone, a constant hum from a nearby workshop, faint voices of children, a train passes along the viaduct.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Eric Street E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 4.25pm

Location: Eric Street just north of junction with Hamlets Way, Mile End.

Description: Voices and footsteps of passersby, beeping from a reversing vehicle, squeal of brakes, traffic on Hamlets Way and Eric Street, slamming of car doors.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

English Street E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 4.20pm

Location: English Street, Mile End.

Description: Aircraft drone, a child's voice, chime of an ice cream van, faint clatter of cutlery from a nearby flat, traffic passing along Hamlets Way.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ropery Street E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 4.15pm

Location: Junction of Maritime Street and Ropery Street, Mile End.

Description: A man coughs, aircraft drone and emergency services siren, traffic on Bow Common Lane, children's voices, other sounds of desultory activity in the street.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Off Bow Common Lane E3 October 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 4.05pm

Location: Narrow lane running westwards from Bow Common Lane, Mile End.

Description: Hum and faint hiss of machinery in a railway arch workshop, traffic on Bow Common Lane, music from a nearby flat, a train passes along the viaduct, a child talks as he walks by, aircraft drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

St Pauls Way E14 October 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 3.50pm

Location: St Paul's Way opposite junction with Baythorne Street, Mile End.

Description: A man coughs, traffic passing along St Paul's Way, voices of schoolchildren walking home, footsteps, aircraft drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Rhodeswell Road E14 October 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 7 October 2013

Time of day: 3.40pm

Location: Rhodeswell Road near junction with Tomlins Terrace, Limehouse.

Description: Aircraft drone, a car door is slammed, passing traffic, occasional thumps and banging sounds from a nearby repair garage, brief call of a water-bird from the Regents Canal.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Ackroyd Drive E3 April 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 April 2013

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: Ackroyd Drive, Mile End, east London.

Description: Traffic, clattering sounds from skatepark a few hundred meters due west, a car passes, aircraft drone.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Celandine Close E14 April 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 April 2013

Time of day: 2.45pm

Location: Celandine Close off Bow Common Lane, Mile End, east London.

Description: A car door is slammed, a jet passes overhead, whine of a power tool in use somewhere on the estate, music from one of the flats overlooking the close.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Grafton House E3 April 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 April 2013

Time of day: 3.15pm

Location: Grafton House near junction of Merchant Street and Wellington Way, Mile End, east London.

Description: Generally quiet environment with aircraft drone, distant voices of children at play, a door slams somewhere on the estate, a car drives past.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Thomas Road E14 April 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 April 2013

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Thomas Road, junction with Wallwood Street, Mile End, east London.

Description: Traffic close by and distant, voices of children playing in the courtyard of an estate, airplane drone, music from passing cars.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Wager Street E3 April 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 April 2013

Time of day: 1.50pm

Location: Wager Street, Mile End, east London.

Description: Sounds in a residential street with children in a playground some distance away, airplane drone, from somewhere a recorded voice singing and speaking, a car drives past.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Tower Hamlets Cemetery April 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 April 2013

Time of day: 2.30pm

Location: Tower Hamlets Cemetery, Mile End, east London.

Description: Birdsong among the trees in the cemetery, faint aircraft drone growing louder, an ice cream van sounds its chime, a train passes along a viaduct a hundred yards or so to the south.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Mile End Park April 2:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 April 2013

Time of day: 1.20pm

Location: Mile End Park near Burdett Road, east London.

Description: Traffic on Burdett Road, a football is kicked around, voices of children and adults in the park, a basketball rattles against its basket.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Shadwell voices 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 4 August 2012

Time of day: 1.15pm

Location: Watney Street market, Shadwell, east London.

Description: Voices of adults and children recorded while walking through Watney Street market.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

St Annes Limehouse 3:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: April 2010

Time of day: Noon

Location: By St Anne's church, Limehouse, east London.

Description: Bell of St Anne's church, Limehouse, East London, chiming 12 noon, followed by ambient sound of traffic and birdsong in churchyard.

Technical guff: Olympus DS-50 recorder.

Recorded by: Chris/dashanna

Additional notes: Many thanks to Chris/dashanna for sharing this via SoundCloud.

Limehouse Basin 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 25 June 2011

Time of day: Noon.

Location: Limehouse Basin, east London.

Description: A strong wind makes the Thames choppy, waves slap against the main lock gates to Limehouse Basin.

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 Mile End Park 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 25 June 2011

Time of day: 12.50pm

Location: Regent's Canal by Mile End Park, east London.

Description: Honking of car horns from a main road, bird calls, a resident in flats opposite slams a door, airplane drone, a jogger runs 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.

Whitechapel tube ticket hall 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 16 February 2011

Time of day: 8pm

Location: Whitechapel Underground station, east London.

Description: Faint beeps and sounds of the ticket barriers opening as commuters pass through them. Voices of people hanging around the ticket hall.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Rooster Mudchute City Farm 0:20

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 26 August 2010

Time of day: Not known

Location: Mudchute City Farm, Isle of Dogs.

Description: A rooster crows twice at the Mudchute City Farm, birdsong and visitors' voices in background.

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.

Grunting pigs Mudchute City Farm 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 26 august 2010

Time of day: Not known

Location: Mudchute City Farm, Isle of Dogs

Description: Close-up recording of Gloucester Old Spot pigs grunting and rooting around their sty. Birdsong and pigeons cooing in the background.

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.

Chrisp Street market 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 20 February 2010

Time of day: 2pm

Location: Walking through Chrisp Street market, Bow, east London.

Description: Echoes from the underpass at Vesey Walk, a youth plays tinny-sounding music from a mobile phone, voices of children and adults, reggae music plays from a market stall.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

21st floor Balfron Tower 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 21 January 2010

Time of day: 4pm

Location: 21st floor balcony, Balfron Tower, Poplar

Description: Constant traffic noise from the Isle of Dogs to the south, a police siren, faint aircraft noise, a dog barks several times.

Technical guff: Stereo. Audio Technica BP4029 mid-side mic and Fostex FR-2LE digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Jubilee Place 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 1 December 2009

Time of day: 8.45pm

Location: In a connecting foyer between Jubilee Place shopping mall and Canary Wharf Underground station.

Description: A chilly, impersonal atmosphere with footsteps as people cross the foyer space, and the constant rush of an air conditioning system.

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

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Whitechapel market 2:56

Grid square: Mile End, Rotherhithe, Isle of Dogs

Recording date: 2 October 2009

Time of day: 1.30pm

Location: Walking westwards through the market along Whitechapel Road, east London.

Description: Intermittent sounding of ambulance sirens, market traders' cries, recorded music from CD stalls, voices of passersby, a man sings outside a shop.

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 3627 8067 1:00

Grid square: Mile End, Isle of Dogs, Rotherhithe

Recording date: 11 July 2009

Time of day: 1.30pm

Location: OS grid reference TQ 3627 8067. The grid point is in the Thames itself. The recording point was at the mouth of Limehouse Basin, overlooking Limehouse Reach.

Description: Aircraft drone and background traffic noise, a crow caws, waves slap against wooden pier struts, a nearby coot swims in the river and calls.

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