What it is
“Silver Taps,” also called, “Echo Taps” is the bugle call, Taps, played by two buglers in echo fashion. It does sound very nice when played on special occasions, but it is not played at funerals.
Why it is not authorized
Army Regulation 220-90, Army Bands dated December 2007, Paragraph 2-5h(1) states the following: “Echo Taps” or “Silver Taps,” the practice of performing “Taps” with multiple buglers, is not authorized. “Echo Taps” is not a part of Army tradition and improperly uses bugler assets.
Army Regulation 600-25, Salutes, Honors, and Visits of Courtesy, dated September 2004, Glossary, Section 2 states the following: “Taps The traditional “lights out” musical composition played at military funerals and memorials. The official version of “Taps” is played by a single bugle. In accordance with AR 220–90, “Echo or Silver Taps,” which is performed by 2 buglers, is not authorized.”
Field Manual 12-50, U.S. Army Bands, dated October 1999, Appendix A, Official And Ceremonial Music, Appendix A, Section 1 – Ceremonial Music, Paragraph A-35 “A-35. Signals that unauthorized lights are to be extinguished. This is the last call of the day. The call is also sounded at the completion of a military funeral ceremony. Taps is to be performed by a single bugler only. Performance of “Silver Taps” or “Echo Taps” is not consistent with Army traditions, and is an improper use of bugler assets.
A Bugler’s Perspective
Taps Bugler, Jari Villanueva has this to say about Echo/Silver Taps:
This idea of sounding Echo Taps may have started right at the creation of the new call, when Union buglers sounded it for the first time at Harrison’s Landing (now Berkeley Plantation). Confederates across the James River repeated the new sound, thus introducing it into both armies. As the call grew in popularity, it was not uncommon to hear the sound of Taps being sounded at the same time each evening by buglers in other companies, thereby giving an echo effect.
However, the call is meant to be sounded by a solo bugler and really should be that way. I personally have nothing against the playing of Echo Taps at Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies but don’t think it should be performed as part of Military Funeral Honors. Read the full article here.