Any Buglers out there?


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280PLUS
May 23, 2005, 07:05 AM
May 21, 7:05 PM (ET)

By BEN DOBBIN

BATH, N.Y. (AP) - It began with three haunting notes from a teenage girl. A second bugler, about 100 yards down the road, picked up the tune. And then a third.

More than 850 buglers, trumpeters and other horn players fanned out Saturday along 41 miles of roads in rural western New York and performed a cascading rendition of taps to highlight the scarcity of buglers at veterans' funerals.

The 24-note melody started up at Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, overlapped from one instrument to the next as it reverberated through a string of small towns from Painted Post to Campbell to Savona, and closed out nearly three hours later at Bath National Cemetery.

The Armed Forces Day tribute, dubbed Echo Taps, took in at least 866 musicians from 30 states playing all varieties of brass horns, from trombones and tubas to flugelhorns and valveless bugles.

"This is just a way of paying tribute to our veterans and hopefully bringing more buglers into the fold," said organizer Les Hampton, a Corning Inc. (GLW) engineer who served on a Navy destroyer in the Vietnam War. "If there's a selfish reason for doing this, I just hope that when my time comes that I have a live bugler."
Thousands of spectators lined the winding route, standing at rapt attention as the music came through. Some put their hands to their hearts, others dabbed at tears or saluted.

The dramatic musical tableau started with 15-year-old Hannah Sollecito, a descendant of Union Army Gen. Daniel Butterfield, who was credited with composing taps along with his brigade bugler, Oliver Norton, during the Civil War.

Sollecito, of Baldwinsville, N.Y., said being chosen to play first was overwhelming. "I could barely talk when they asked me, and then I started crying," she said.

Each musician, often separated by less than a hundred yards, performed a full rendition. The song rolled through the Chemung River Valley to Corning, before tilting northwest toward Bath, at about 20 miles an hour.

The final haunting chords were delivered by Fran Look, 80, a World War II paratrooper who performs taps at about a dozen funerals each year, and George Taylor, 74, a Korean War intelligence specialist who has played at almost 10,000 funerals since 1945.

"I belong to two honor guards and we do funerals almost daily," said Taylor, of Newark, Del. "We had three buglers and two of them died and it's down to me."

"So many people find it more comforting when you play taps," he added. "They wouldn't settle for anything less. Taps is a 'Thank you' to the veteran."

An average of 1,800 U.S. veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam die per day. There are not nearly enough buglers to perform live renditions at military funerals.

Taps is usually delivered digitally, using either a compact disc player placed near the grave or, increasingly since 2003, a Pentagon-approved, push-button "ceremonial bugle" that anyone can mimic playing by raising it to their lips.

The armed forces have about 500 musicians who perform taps, but many of them have been dispatched to Iraq and Afghanistan. About 3,800 civilian volunteers in the four-year-old Bugles Across America group also fill in wherever they can.

The Echo Taps project aims to honor military service, enlist more volunteer buglers and raise the profile of America's 120 national cemeteries. Organizers hope to get a mention in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest line of brass instruments playing the same tune.

After Saturday's elongated performance, the entire symphony assembled on a parade field at a Veterans Administration's medical center here to play taps one more time together.

Gail Rodriguez snapped photographs to send to her son, Jesse, a Marine sergeant serving in Afghanistan.

"He thought it was an awesome thing for them to be doing," she said, standing next to his young son, Trevor.

Rodriguez prays every day that God will keep her son safe. "That's the only way you can cope," she said.

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jobu07
May 23, 2005, 07:32 AM
I covered that event over the weekend. It has made a nice series of reports over the past month actually. It was pretty slick. And there were a ton of different stories to write about it. But, they had the chain wind through a few cemetaries that Revolutionary War vets buried in them. It was definatly, definatly, a moving day. Some of young kids there too playing.

bytor94
May 23, 2005, 08:37 AM
When ever I hear Taps, faces of some dear friends and relatives come to mind. I can't listen without getting slightly teary-eyed. It is a very moving sound to me.

Henry Bowman
May 23, 2005, 09:57 AM
My father-in-law was burried 2 weeks ago and the local VFW provided military honors. Although one of their members is a bugler, taps was played by one of the funeral directors.

Dannyboy
May 23, 2005, 11:00 AM
When I was stationed at Ft. Sill my battalion got picked for funeral detail a few times. We did dozens of funerals and always used a tape player for Taps. Except for the one we did at the post cemetery. We had the band's bugler for that one. The tape isn't the best thing but at least you don't get that little hiccup like the guy at JFK's funeral.

one-shot-one
May 23, 2005, 11:17 AM
having not been in the military, make mine amazing grace on the bag pipes, gets me every time.

Harry Tuttle
May 23, 2005, 11:19 AM
Pentagon to test high-tech method of playing 'Taps'
WASHINGTON (AP) The Pentagon, chronically short of musicians to play taps at military funerals, is going to test the use of a new "push button" bugle that can be operated by an honor guard member.
A small digital audio device inserted into the bell of the bugle plays a rendition of taps that the Pentagon says is "virtually indistinguishable" from a live bugler. The person using the bugle merely pushes a button and holds the bugle to his or her lips.

"In addition to the very high quality sound, it provides a dignified 'visual' of a bugler playing taps, something families tell us they want," said John M. Molino, a deputy assistant secretary of defense who announced the innovation Thursday.

The Pentagon has been struggling for years to cope with its shortage of musicians for funerals. Families of honorably discharged veterans are entitled to a two-person uniformed funeral honor guard, the folding and presentation of the U.S. flag and a rendition of taps.

With the bugler shortage in mind, Congress passed a law that took effect in January 2000 and allows a recorded version of taps using audio equipment if a live horn player is not available. Molino said the push-button bugle is a "dignified alternative" to prerecorded taps played on a stereo or compact disc player.

The ceremonial bugle will not be used when a military musician is available, he said.

The Pentagon plans to start a six-month test of the ceremonial bugle in Missouri on Nov. 7. Fifty of the new bugles will be distributed to military units and other authorized providers of funeral honors, such as veterans' organizations. Comments from family members will be assessed before the Pentagon decides whether to expand the program.

The original rendition of taps was composed during the Civil War, in July 1862, when a wounded Union general, Daniel Adams Butterfield, directed brigade bugler Oliver Wilcox Norton to honor his 600 troops who died in the battle by playing some notes he had written on the back of an envelope. The piece was soon adopted throughout the military. In 1874, it was officially recognized by the Army, and it became standard at military funerals in 1891.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2002-10-25-high-tech-taps_x.htm

Preacherman
May 23, 2005, 01:20 PM
"In addition to the very high quality sound, it provides a dignified 'visual' of a bugler playing taps, something families tell us they want," said John M. Molino, a deputy assistant secretary of defense who announced the innovation Thursday.

And when the battery dies in the middle of a serenade? :scrutiny:

centac
May 23, 2005, 01:24 PM
Is there a particular reason why it is named "Taps?"

R.H. Lee
May 23, 2005, 01:36 PM
http://www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html

My dad, a WWII veteran, passed away last month. His graveside service included military honors and a bagpiper. My SWMBO, an accomplished trumpet player, played Taps-perfectly.

280PLUS
May 23, 2005, 01:42 PM
My condolences to all those who have recently lost loved ones.

:(

Actually,I think anyone with just a bit of musical ability should be able to pick up a bugle and get Taps out of it with some practice. I mean, you'd only have to learn one piece. How hard can it be? Just something for you musical types out there to think about. Sounds rewarding to me. ;)

Henry Bowman
May 23, 2005, 02:35 PM
Actually,I think anyone with just a bit of musical ability should be able to pick up a bugle and get Taps out of it with some practice. It consists of exactly 4 notes, all played with the same fingering on a trumpet (1+3) and no fingering on a bugle. I'd say a weekend (or less) of lessons and 30 minutes practice per week for a few weeks would make almost anyone competent.

However, the real time commitment is being available for funerals in the middle of the day during the work week at 1 or 2 days notice.

jnojr
May 23, 2005, 06:19 PM
For a second, I thought the title was "Any burglars out there?" About fell out of my chair... :D

444
May 23, 2005, 07:01 PM
" make mine amazing grace on the bag pipes, gets me every time."

It is traditional for the bagpipes to be played at a firefighters funeral. We have a couple guys that took the time and effort to learn to play just for funerals along with guys who volunteer their time as members of the honor guard. That seems like it would take a lot more work than learning to play taps on a bugle, but what do I know ?
And of course, if they are working on the day of the funeral, they get paid to play since they are on duty.

CleverName
May 23, 2005, 07:07 PM
It's based off of the overtones of a brass instrument, isn't it? It should be in theory a very easy piece to play. Of course, to get good intonation, sound color, etc. requires practice and good equipment, but any decent trumpeter should be able to. Maybe we should ask the kids in the band at the local high school to play.

280PLUS
May 23, 2005, 07:51 PM
However, the real time commitment is being available for funerals in the middle of the day during the work week at 1 or 2 days notice.

Yes, I believe I wll put it on my list of things to keep me occupied if I ever actually get to retire. ;)

mons meg
May 23, 2005, 07:56 PM
Maybe it's time to polish my trumpet. I don't work Fridays...

280PLUS
May 23, 2005, 08:26 PM
Heck, I figured it out on the Gee-tar in about 12 seconds. And Clever is right about the brass overtones as it only uses the 1 - 3 - 5 of the scale the 5 being repeated an octave higher giving us the 4 different notes that Henry was talking about.

And now ends our little venture into the world of music theory. :)

ecbaatz
May 23, 2005, 08:44 PM
I have played the trumpet/cornet since the 5th grade and during high school got out of a number of classes to play at funerals for service members. I played taps at my father's cemetary last Memorial Day after the local VFW/American Legion (not sure which is was) ceremony which surprised them. They did not have a bugler or even a tape deck so were very pleased to have it played. They tracked down my mother and asked if I would play at the 5 cemetaries they are responsible for this year and what could I say but yes? Even though I was not planning on traveling the 250 miles to get to my Mom's this weekend you know what I will be doing Memorial Day.

Speaking of that, I should get it out and do some more practicing.

Thank you to all Veterans in all services. You gave me more then you will ever know.


Eric C. Baatz EM1(SS) Retired

280PLUS
May 24, 2005, 06:11 AM
Thank YOU Eric! ;)

Harry Tuttle
May 24, 2005, 12:02 PM
awesome site:
http://www.tapsbugler.com/

If you are interested providing the service of sounding Taps at a funeral, there are
several ways you can get involved. One is an organization called Bugles Across
America. Headquartered in Chicago and founded by Marine veteran Tom Day, this
group is trying to provide a much needed service to deceased veterans by creating a
network of buglers.

You may also alert your local VFW and American Legion Posts and local funeral homes
that you are willing to perform at funerals, or contact your state National Guard office
and find out if they have a need for civilian contract buglers for ceremonies. Many
buglers and professional trumpeters are willing to sound Taps and can be hired to do
this duty.

The following guidelines are written to provide those with little knowledge of military
ceremonies with the basics needed for rendering this honor. Few buglers today have
the background of a military musician and many are unaware of the protocol involved.
I hope this helps to guide those buglers who have a sincere interest in sounding Taps
at funerals.

http://www.tapsbugler.com/TapsPerformanceGuide/TapsPerfGuide1.html

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