What is Echo Taps or Silver Taps?

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Honor Guard, Instructional 7 Comments

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.

Comments 7

  1. I am the bugler for my American Legion Post here in Poland, Ohio. I am the only one who plays Taps at funerals. I have had to tell other buglers that Echo Taps is not authorized, and they have no idea what I am talking about. Got to quote the regs to them and they still look stupid.

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  2. I am a retired Army (and Air Force veteran) trumpet player. I have played Echo Taps at many ceremonies and at about a dozen funerals (out of about 1000). At funerals it was only performed when scheduling screw-ups ended up with two buglers (usually from different organizations) at the same funeral. It is usually too late late for one bugler to go to another funeral, so why not do Echo Taps if both buglers know it and agree to play it?

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      The DoD does not officially allow Echo/Silver Taps for funerals, which goes for all military services.

      If you are doing it for official funerals, then you are getting away with it. If you are volunteering to do it, there isn’t much of an issue.

      Of course veterans love it. It sounds beautiful. To offer it as a standard is dangerous when, for one reason or another, you are unable to play it.

  3. Pingback: The POW/MIA Ceremony | The DrillMaster

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