Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to evoke emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting and the history of its origin is interesting and somewhat clouded in controversy. In the British Army, a similar type call known as Last Post has been sounded over soldiers’ graves since 1885, but the use of Taps is unique to the United States military, since the call is sounded at funerals, wreath-laying and memorial services.
Thus begins Jari Villanueva's comprehensive booklet on the history of Taps ([Villanueva 2011]). Please visit the Taps Bugler web site for an excerpt from this booklet as well as Jari's recording of Taps on a Civil War Clairon.
Here's a solo flute recording of Taps I made on December 6, 2011 on a Taos flute replica crafted by Russ Wolf:
Here's a YouTube video done as part of our October 2015 FluteCast on the Bugle scale and the melody Taps:
Sheet Music - Six-hole and Five-hole Pentatonic Minor Tuned Flutes
Taps - Six-Hole Flutes - Pentatonic Minor Tuning
Alternative Style of Sheet Music
Here is another format for scoring music, used by Walt ‘Greywolf’ Gastin (19May1966—3Jun2007) to arrange Taps for the Native American flute. Finger patterns are shown in several ways, and note duration is represented by the length of the line. Some less experienced players find this approach more intuitive.
I am always exploring new ways of presenting music. If this style of music transcription appeals to you more than the sheet music above, please contact me and tell me your thoughts.
Taps, arranged by Walt ‘Greywolf’ Gastin, published November 4, 2004