David Byrne (Talking Heads) recently discussed his recent trip to London and how he recorded the city sounds of London, which he then turned into a musical piece. Listen to his song and read his story below!


London's tempo is 122.86 beats per minute.

I brought along some field recording gear to use while I was staying in the lovely pod/room/boat. I went out during the day and recorded sounds that I thought might be useful and evocative. It turned out that most of the sounds—even the church organ in Southwark Cathedral—seemed to converge around a common rhythm. It's a bit too good to be true—that every large city should have its own rhythm, but here it is. I let the sounds dictate the groove, the tempo, and then I simply played along.

Here are where the sounds come from:

Strawberry seller: Borough Market
Train: Southwark
Woman Evangelist: Spitalfields Market
Organ: Southwark Cathedral
Jackhammer: near Waterloo
Footsteps: mine, embankment
Thames waves: near Surrey water

The videos are from all over. I took lots of photos around town while walking about, but I felt that moving images complemented London's groove a little better.

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