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The next World Sound comes from a trip I made to London back in April 2012. In keeping with the current theme in the World Sounds series, I spent quite some time capturing various soundscapes in and around London Underground stations. London is constantly being upgraded and re-generated and this was particularly the case in April 2012, just before the Olympic Games took place, where the tube network had received some serious investment. It would be too expensive and would cause too much disruption to have upgraded the entire system in time for the games, so whilst some lines were already very modern, others hadn’t seen re-investment for many years. With eleven lines in total (not including DLR and Overground), each line has it’s own unique sound – a mix of many factors, such as the station environment (interior/exterior, acoustics of the station), the trains, announcements, location etc.

I recorded the following soundscape at Westbourne Park tube station in West London. Being the opposite side of the London Olympic site, this station didn’t really see much in the way of investment. But sonically, I find it a really interesting location. Just behind the station there is the Westway flyover, an elevated section of the busy A40 dual carriageway, meaning traffic noise bounces off the buildings opposite the station. The trains also arrive and depart on a steep curve causing the train wheels to screech loudly. In the recording, we first hear a couple of sirens coming from the flyover. The sound reflections can clearly be heard as the police cars drive by. Then we have two trains that arrive at the same time on each platform, followed immediately by the infamous “mind the gap please”. And as the trains both depart we hear the screeching of train wheels on tracks, a sound that I really like. I think this is a very interesting recording that is sonically very rich. Being recorded binaurally adds further interest as we can re-experience the full panorama.

– use headphones for optimised listening experience –

Photo credit : Nico Hogg