London Street Noises

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This is the 2019 submission. Check out the 2020 submission here.

A piece by Mattia Cobianchi, John L Drever, Aysegul Yildirim.

In September of 1928 five locations across central London were recorded by a team from Columbia Records led by Commander Daniel and supported by the Daily Mail. The project was prompted by a pressing concern for the impact on health and wellbeing from traffic noise. As well as traffic sounds of the day accompanied by the occasional busker, on the recordings we hear the voice of Commander Daniel who provides an opinionated commentary on the unnecessary noises of the city.

These historical recordings from September 1928 will be made available on a web based geolocated map at the exact location of where those recordings were originally taken. The recordings will be contextualized with newspaper articles of the time and a short commentary.

A questionnaire to trigger critical listening and gather data for a comparative analysis of the 1928 soundscape versus the modern one will be linked on the page and pointing at an anonymous Google form. The users will be able to answer the questions in situ, namely where the old recordings took place, and the responses will provide us with the insight on how listeners receive, react and/or interpret the differences that took place in the soundscapes in more than 90 years. Questions may include how they feel about the soundscape, how they would categorise or describe it, whether the sounds promote social interaction, or whether there are particularly disturbing or pleasant sounds in the area.

If the user wants to share the soundscape around her, a link to an app for Android and iOS able to anonymously record and upload the recording to an open access web-based database will be also included in the page. Not only listening to the historical recordings but also the contemporary sound recordings generated by the users would contribute to creating a sense of a constantly evolving soundscape, with the listening subjects as well as the everyday life, the ‘ordinary’, social issues, histories and stories as inextricable part of it.

The Soundscape Special Interest Group from Goldsmiths’ Unit for Sound Practice Research will be on location on Sunday 1 September, at the following sites to share and discuss the project: 1 to 2 pm in Beauchamp Place (you will find us half way down the road on the pavement) 3 to 4pm in Leicester Square (you will find us near the statue of William Shakespeare in the middle of Leicester Square).

Please install the app “ECHOES interactive sound walks” on your Android or iOS device Android http://bit.ly/AndroidEchoes iOS http://bit.ly/EchoesLSN

Once the app has been installed, switch on your GPS and open the app. Please note that it`s optimized for portrait mode. In the “Search location” field in the top right corner, type “LSN”, you should see within the result list “LSN: London Street Noises”, which will be made available to the public for the entire month of September starting with Sunday the 1st . Please tap on it. Please read through the description, which gives you the historical context of this project, and when ready, tap on “Start”. The app will ask for confirmation to start the walk in streaming mode, tap again on “Start”. You will now see a map with blue bubbles representing the 5 locations where the recordings were taken in September 1928. You can start with any of them, but you`ll be able to hear the recording only within the area delimited by the bubble. By tapping on a bubble, you will see the name of the location, and by tapping on the name of the location, you can access some background information. The same background information is available as a read aloud version in an area adjacent to the relative location if you prefer to hear it instead of reading it on your device screen.

A bubble along Oxford Street contains some info about the recording technology used at the time. Once you have listened to the 1928 soundscape, please fill in the anonymous google form linked in the location description. When the soundwalk is open in map view, you can also tap on the “List” icon in the top right corner to see a list of the locations and their descriptions. By tapping on the items in the list, you will then access the full description. HUSH City app If you want to anonymously share the current soundscape of the location you are in with the community, please install the Hush City app. The recordings will be then publicly available here https://map.opensourcesoundscapes.org Android http://bit.ly/AndroidHush iOS http://bit.ly/HushLSN When answering the first question “What prompted you to record this sound?” please reply “LSN”, so that we can identify the recording as part of the London Street Noises project.

John Levack Drever

Operating at the intersection of acoustics, audiology, urban design, sound art, soundscape studies, and experimental music, Drever’s practice represents an ongoing inquiry into the perception, design and practice of everyday environmental sound. He has a...

Mattia Cobianchi

Mattia Cobianchi

I`m an acoustic and transducer engineer, with a professional life in audio and an academic life in adaptive soundscape composition thanks to a doctoral collaborative award at Goldsmiths University of London. I`m interested in everything related to vibrat...

Near Beauchamp Place, London, UK

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