Ear

Getting to grips with noise

With International Noise Awareness Day coming up on 25 April, it’s a good time to think about noise: what it is, and what we can do about it.According to the government’s Noise Policy Statement, ‘sound only becomes noise (often defined as ‘unwanted sound’) when it exists in the wrong place or at the wrong time’ causing(…)

The Monument: memorial, fossil, telescope, gnomon

The Monument – the flame-topped Doric column to the north of London Bridge – was once the capital’s tallest building. At 202ft, it’s as high as it is distant from the bakery on Pudding Lane where the Great Fire started in 1666. Visible from all around, it would have reminded anyone who looked up of(…)

Ringing the changes

First it was Big Ben – silenced in August (see London Loses Its Voice) – now, St Paul’s. So, when I led a group into the Cathedral courtyard one Sunday morning expecting them to be dazzled by the change ringing, we were greeted with … nothing.It turns out that the bells were taken down in(…)

London loses its voice

At midday on Monday Big Ben will sound its last bongs until 2021. It’s being silenced so that the clock and surrounding tower can be safely repaired. It will continue to show the correct time. But once the bell’s striking hammer is locked, the clock will lose its voice.Perhaps London, too, will lose its voice. Big Ben represents(…)

City noise and body rhythms

We tend to think of noisy places as ‘fast’ and quiet places as ‘slow’. There’s a rather obvious reason for this: motion – from cars, tube trains, hordes of commuters – usually generates noise. Other kinds of noise, though, have nothing to do with movement. A pub packed with people shouting to be heard above the music might still feel(…)

An Ear to the London Night

We’re delighted to be part of The Night Museum — a week of free events in and around the Museum of London from 29 October to 4 November exploring ‘the hidden, the illicit and the lost’.Rosie will be leading An Ear to the London Night on Wednesday 2 November. It’s a 45 minute adapted version of The London Ear where(…)

Contactless but tactile

Technologies like automatic doors, sensor-controlled escalators and even contactless payments all allow us to glide through London without touching it—with our hands, that is.We feel the city with our feet. Through the soles of our shoes we learn the texture of London’s uneven paving, lumpy tarmac and slippery cobbles. We also read the city with our(…)

London’s birds and the global sound wave

International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday 1 May is a prompt to connect with birds as they herald a new day. Do London’s birds sing differently from their country cousins? Studies have found that great tits chirp higher. This is thought to be so as better to project above the rumble of traffic and other(…)