When we hear the military bugle call, we know today as Taps, we do more than hear it: we feel it. It has varied meaning for those who embrace the smooth intervals which start in the middle register and rise the cusp of a bugle’s high register only to waft gently downward again.
That call began its life as “Extinguish Lights”, a lullaby for grown men in uniform some of whom are still young enough to inwardly wish to hear the warm consolation of a mother’s voice. Like much of our written language, it is of vague French origin with a few revisions along the way that has made it uniquely ours and known world-wide.
The trumpeters that have had the honor of playing it take it quite seriously and know that it requires nerve and a lot of waiting. I have played it many times under varying circumstances. I have played it for funerals of retired veterans as well as those who lost their lives in battle while most of us were worrying about where we should go out to dinner. I have played it for memorial services for veterans of many different wars. I have even played it at my home at the request of southern women who just needed to remember.
I see playing it as a duty much as when I am asked to play our national anthem at a sporting event or other gathering. I did not serve in the military, much to my chagrin. Learning to play the trumpet was the order of the time as our involvement in the war in Southeast Asia was ebbing. So, I stood observing the love of brothers when I would be asked to play Taps for Minnesota’s Patriot Guard annually for a few years. God knows I put my heart into every note to serve as some manner of catharsis for those brave men and women that attended MPG functions and fundraisers.
After playing a few of those, I attracted the attention of a group that ran something called Minnesota Military Radio Hour. It was, as you might expect, a program for active military and veterans to talk about issues light and heavy of import for that part of our population. They wanted to have a Taps that they could use as needed on their weekly program. The session was short and sweet, much to the surprise of the engineer who anticipated several takes and possible editing. What he got was one take and done.
Here’s the result of that session.