The sound of silence… and Ian McMillan’s tummy rumbles


I was listening to Desert Island Discs today, which I often enjoy but even more so when a) it’s someone I’ve heard of and not a Croatian ballet choreographer and b) it’s someone I like. I’ve always liked Ian McMillan in his various radio guises, such as the poetry slots he used to do on Mark and Lard’s shows on Radio 1.

Anyway, his last music choice was John Cage’s 4’3″ which I’m sure you know is Cage’s famous musical composition consisting of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, the idea being that the listener makes of it what they will. Or something. As McMillan explained we weren’t able to hear the whole piece because it would have kickstarted Radio 4’s emergency broadcast transmission that goes out if there is a certain period of dead air, but they did play some. But it wasn’t silent. The silence was punctuated by McMillan’s tummy rumbling and some stifled laughter from himself and Kirsty Young. Which begs the question, is the mic on when they play all their other songs on Desert Island Discs, or did they just leave it on for this?

Not that it makes much difference one way or another, it’s just I’d always assumed and I’m sure been aware of guest and presenter chatting ‘off mic’ during the songs playing…

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