Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

News & Tips for Trumpet & Cornet Students

  • November 2012
    S M T W T F S
    « Oct   Dec »
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    252627282930  
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 39 other followers

  • Subscribe

Archive for November, 2012

“Echo Taps” on Veterans Day 2012—the 150th Anniversary Year of its Composition

Posted by glennled on November 19, 2012

Taps, original painting by Sidney E. King on display at Berkeley Plantation

In 1862, when Daniel Adams Butterfield composed “Taps” during the Civil War, there was no Veterans Day. A New Yorker, he was then a Brigadier General and later a Major General in the Union Army. Fifty-six years later in 1918, this national holiday was established (first as Armistice Day) after the end of World War I. Its name was changed to Veterans Day after World War II and is now celebrated annually on 11 November in honor of all American veterans. This year is the 150th anniversary year of “Taps,” the most famous of all American bugle calls. Thus, it came to pass that Richard Haydis and I sounded “Echo Taps” to close the memorial ceremony at Veterans Park in Lynnwood on a rainy Sunday, 11 November 2012.

Haydis is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, and I am a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam era. VFW Post 1040 (see http://vfw1040.org/) hosted the ceremony, where the featured speaker was Michael G. Reagan, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, internationally renown artist and leader of the Fallen Heroes Project (see my post of 19 November 2011, and www.fallenheroesproject.org). The ceremony featured the NW Junior Pipe Band (see www.mwjbp.org) and

Michael G. Reagan, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Fallen Heroes Project

Ray Colby, VFW Post 1040 Piper and a U.S. Navy veteran. Cub Scout Pack 331 placed flags in the park and distributed the ceremony programs.During 2012, buglers throughout the nation participated in numerous ceremonies to commemorate the 150th anniversary of “Taps.” The prime event occurred on 22-24 June at Harrison Landing on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation along the James River, southeast of Richmond, Virginia (see www.taps150.org). This was the birthplace of America’s Song of Remembrance.

In late June, 1862, after the Seven Days Battles, the Army of the Potomac recuperated at Harrison Landing. Butterfield himself had been wounded.  It is said of Oliver Willcox Norton, bugler of Butterfield’s Brigade, that Butterfield called him to his tent to work on a new bugle call until, as Butterfield put it, he got it smooth, melodious, and musical, suited his ear and taste. Norton was the first to sound “Taps” as we now know it in early July.  Later, in 1898, Norton wrote a letter recalling the incident:

Taps, Butterfield and Norton

“…One day, soon after the seven days battles on the Peninsular, when the Army of the Potomac was lying in camp at Harrison’s Landing, General Daniel Butterfield, then commanding our Brigade, sent for me, and showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. I think no general order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac. I have been told that it was carried to the Western Armies by the 11th and 12th Corps, when they went to Chattanooga in the fall of 1863, and rapidly made its way through those armies. I did not presume to question General Butterfield at the time, but from the manner in which the call was given to me, I have no doubt he composed it in his tent at Harrison s Landing…

For a detailed account of the composition of “Taps”, please see “24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions,” by Jari A. Villanueva, at www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html.

Taps Monument prior to 2012 renovation, Berkeley Plantation

The Virginia Department of the American Legion erected a monument dedicated to “Taps” on a knoll where General Butterfield’s tent stood in July 1862. This is the only such monument in the country. There is a bronze statue of Butterfield in Sakura Park on Claremont Avenue in Manhattan, not far from Grant’s Tomb. And Butterfield is buried at West Point, although he attended Union College (Class of 1849) in Schenectady, not the U.S. Military Academy (see www.union.edu/news/stories/2012/05/sounding-a-solemn-note-taps-turns-150.php).

Incidentally, the call is named “Taps” because at the end of the call, a drummer would play three distinct drum taps at four-count intervals. And as popular and beautiful as it is, “Echo Taps” is not an official bugle call of the U.S. military. Officially, “Taps” is to be sounded by a single bugle.

Photos of the 2012 Lynnwood ceremony are by Andy Dingman. Please click on any image to enlarge it.

Posted in Ceremonies & Celebrations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: