Welcome to the London Sound Survey, a growing collection of Creative Commons-licensed sound recordings of places, events and wildlife in the capital. Historical references too are gathered to find out how London's sounds have changed.
Stereo recordings of sounds designed and made to have an impact on other people, and also of events where there's a main focus of attention. Includes traders' cries in London markets, voices of officialdom, hustlers, buskers, pub singalongs, carnivals and parades.
Stereo recordings of ambient sounds all across London, including a grid series of recordings made at regular points on the map. From woodland and suburban streets to steam museums and night-time West End crowds.
Recordings collected along London's canals, lesser rivers and streams and made into a pastiche of the London Underground map. Man-made noise, the calls of wildlife and the restless voice of water passing through culverts, weirs and channels.
Recordings made along the Kent and Essex shores of the Thames estuary, as well as further inland, capturing the sounds of industry, wildlife, marshland, and towns from Dartford to Sheerness.
Recordings from around London by blind recordist and musician Andre Louis. Featuring sounds from Kilburn, Notting Hill, the West End and elsewhere.
The start of a new series of sound maps in which the areas are anonymised and the only geographical information shown is walking distances in minutes between recording points.
High-quality urban wildlife recordings made by Stoke Newington- based recordist Richard Beard. This addition to the original London wildlife section features birdsong and the calls of some other animals from Abney Park, Walthamstow Marshes and elsewhere.
A page with a brief explanation of the objectives of the London Sound Survey, a description of the licensing conditions applying to the site's recordings and other materials, and email contact details.
An older wildlife site section mainly consisting of birdsong recordings made by Stuart Fisher in parts of south and east London. There are also some recordings by Ian Rawes of dawn choruses and bat sonar.
A collection of descriptions and references to sounds drawn mainly from primary sources such as autobiographies, diaries and statutes, as well as novels written around the times they depict. The earliest accounts date from the 11th century.
The sounds of 1930s and 1940s London from old BBC radio broadcasts, digitised for the first time from their original 78 rpm transcription discs. Featuring street entertainers, auctioneers, fortune tellers and much more. Reproduced by kind permission of BBC Worldwide. This section will likely be the last to be converted to a text-only format because direct links to the sound files cannot be used. Some form of embedded and accessible media player will be needed instead.
Text-only versions are to follow for the site's blog pages, and for a page listing several makes of microphone which can be worn in the ears or otherwise attached to each side of the head, a technique often termed 'binaural recording'.
The London Map combines many of the recordings from the Sound Maps and Sound Actions sections into a single interface. Historical map layers, including First Series Ordnance Survey and Booth's Poverty Map, give a background to the modern-day sounds of London. The section includes around 600 map images, graphically-driven forms of user interaction, but relatively little text.
The London Sound Survey strongly supports the cause of recycling, and so the historical maps which have been cut up and used in the All-in-one London Map are here put back together. They're presented as a small number of very large images which site visitors can zoom into and inspect.
"Perhaps the most ambitious and comprehensive approach to sound mapping I've yet to see. An all-around wonderful site!" Jim Cummings, Acoustic Ecology Institute.
"An excellent and deep site." John Ptak, Ptak Science Books.
"It's the quality of these stereo recordings that gives it the edge." Transpontine blog.
"The warmth of something well-made. There is so much to hear and consider." The Domestic Soundscape website.
"A beautifully crafted labour of love." Londonist website.
Rickshaw bells and horns. Description: Rickshaw operators ring their bells and sound toy horns as theatregoers spill out onto Drury Lane. Added on: 28 February 2015.
South Street Romford. Grid square: Romford, Hornchurch. Time: 1pm. Added on: 28 February 2015.
Fireworks night Stockwell 1995. Description: Near and distant sounds of fireworks recorded from Albert Square, Stockwell, south London in 1995. Added on: 18 February 2015.
It’s a curious thing, Austin, to be alone in London at night, the gas-lamps stretching away in perspective, and the dead silence, and then perhaps the rush and clatter of a hansom on the stones, and the fire starting up under the horse’s hoofs. I walked along pretty briskly, for I was feeling a little tired of being out in the night, and as the clocks were striking two I turned down Ashley Street, which, you know, is on my way. It was quieter than ever there, and the lamps were fewer; altogether, it looked as dark and gloomy as a forest in winter. I had done about half the length of the street when I heard a door closed very softly, and naturally I looked up to see who was abroad at such an hour.
When: 1890s. Author: Arthur Machen. Added on: 28 February 2015.
That concludes the London Sound Survey home page.
The London Sound Survey 2015. A Creative Commons Licence applies to all site content except where stated otherwise.