The London Sound Survey collects the sounds of everyday public life from across London, and compiles material from the past to show how the sound environment has changed.

Created in 2009 by Ian Rawes whilst working for the British Library Sound Archive, The London Sound Survey began as a hobby after Ian made his first London recordings. Since these humble beginnings the survey has grown to over 2,000 recordings and become Ian’s full time vocation.

Using historical and present day maps and grid references the site is divided into six sections: London Map, Sound Actions, Sound Map, Wildlife, Historical and Blog. The project receives no external funding with all audio files being published under a creative commons (non-commercial) licence.

The inclusion of metadata with nearly all the sound files has made the London Sound Survey’s material useful to postgraduate researchers working in fields such as geography and auditory perception.

A sense of history is provided through written testimonials. However these prove difficult to find the further back you go, partly because writers before the 19th century dwell more on action and dialogue than on sensory descriptions. Samuel Pepys’s diaries stand out (arguably because he had highly developed musical skills). Their highly intimate and confessional nature let him describe sounds that startled and alarmed him.

Ian Rawes regularly gives talks, and writes a blog about subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

Fun Fact

The London Sound Survey runs on tea and batteries.

About this Contributor

Contributor type
Minutes created
BMH #3, Flute busking in Blackfriars, Collection 3 #43, Collection 3 #46, Collection 3 #52, Collection 3 #10, Collection 3 #16, Collection 3 #22, Collection 3 #28, Collection 3 #34, Collection 3 #4, Collection 1 #23, Collection 1 #16, Collection 1 #13