Posted by Sid Smith on May 18, 2016

In the wake of birthday salutations, Reporters Notebook rolled out one of Robert Fripp's most quoted misquotes, namely “Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.”

The actual quote is as follows:

Music is the cup which holds the wine of silence.
Sound is that cup, but empty.
Noise is that cup, but broken.

The aphorism dates from the spring of 1980 when Fripp was playing in Paris with The League Of Gentlemen.

The origin of the phrase's popularity, albeit in a corrupted form, seems to stem from its misuse in a 2005 episode of the very popular  ITV detective series, Rosemary And Thyme entitled, The Cup Of Silence.

During the murder mystery show, writer Stephen Gallagher has one of the characters raise a glass and offer the toast, "Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence", even having the character attribute the phrase to Robert Fripp.

It seems likely that Gallagher found the quote via the internet where it enjoys a secondary life as an inspirational meme of sorts.

The mangled phrase also has its own page dedicated to explaining what it might mean.

The wrong quote even received a kind of municipal immortality when Southwark Council weaponised it as part of an anti-social behaviour strategy aimed at buskers. Who says irony is dead?

The Wine Of Silence was the title of the 2012 release by Fripp, Keeling and Singleton, an album of orchestral arrangements of Fripp's soundscapes.

All About Jazz's John Kelman said of the album "In collaboration with Keeling and Singleton, he's proven the continued relevance of his work on an album that stands alone in his discography, yet is the logical and inevitable consequence of a lifetime's work."

Coinciding with the launch of the album release, in May 2012 a special concert of the music was staged in Amsterdam with the Metropole Orchestra and the Crouch End Chorus under the baton of Jules Buckley. You can read my experience of the performance over on the blog and my take on the album here

The Wine Of Silence is available from Inner Knot and Burning Shed.