The London Sound Survey

The London Sound Survey collects the sounds of everyday public life throughout London and compiles past accounts to show how the sound environment has changed. This page explains more about the site.

The idea for the London Sound Survey formed while I was working as a storeman in the British Library Sound Archive. Older members of staff still referred to their workplace by its former title, the National Sound Archive, so the website’s name was a hybrid of that and A Survey of London, the book written by John Stow in 1598. The historical aspects of sound can be as interesting as its present-day manifestations, sometimes more so.

I made my first London recordings in April 2008 and the site went online just over a year later. Since then it’s grown from about 200 recordings to 2,000 and progressed from a hobby almost to a full-time vocation. Alongside my own efforts I’ve been pleased to feature work by Richard Beard, Andre Louis, Stuart Fisher, Felicity Ford, Jonathan Prior and others.

I left the Sound Archive in 2014 to be poor but free, with access to daylight and more time to spend on the website and related projects.The London Sound Survey receives no funding other than what comes out of my pocket, but it has been helped in countless ways by many people over the years. The three organisations who’ve given me a lot of breaks are Resonance FM, Caught by the River, and The Wire magazine.

To that future listener, greetings.

Ian M. Rawes

London Sound Survey

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