Tuesday, April 27, 2010

...just when I thought I'd seen everything



when most people hear of "Taps" being played...
they think of a setting like this...



a funeral, memorial service or some other solemn occasion...
a bugler or trumpeter... in some sort of uniform...
playing these hauntingly poignant notes...
that we all associate with a final good-bye...
and that I've played hundreds of times...

but never before like I did today...

I had no trumpet or bugle on my hand...
just this...



but, I digress...first, some back story...

I was singing for a funeral at the church...
the "departed" having been in the Coast Guard...
I was approached just before the service by Fr.G...
and a uniformed member of the U.S.C.G.Honor Guard...
who were there to fold the flag & present it to the family...
while "Taps" was being played...

he handed me the above pictured object...
and asked me if I could,"Turn it on, when the time came...
then press,"Play"..." as Taps was recorded on it...
that's all I had to do...

they just needed a button pusher...
& I was through singing then...

the irony was NOT lost on me...
that he was asking the one person in the room ...
who could have actually played Taps on a bugle...
to play the pre-recorded version...

funerals already being a time of rumination for me...
on the, all too swift, passage of our years here on earth...
this new revelation was just another way ...
that the things I'd spent my whole life doing...
were becoming less & less, a part of my life...

my services were,"no longer needed..."

& this realization has left me feeling tired & expendable...

I used to think of Taps as a last service that I could give...
a final salute...an ultimate gesture of respect for services rendered...
to country, honor, duty & God...

now... not so much...

being that it takes no skill, art or control to press the "play" button...
the effort required to "perform" well, under stressful circumstances...
has been replaced by no effort or skill at all...
just a well-charged battery...

I remember the many times I've had to focus my attention to play...
blocking out the grief of family members & mourners that surrounded me...
as if my focus and determination to do a good job...
while innundated by grief & loss, honored the sacrifice of the departed...
more completely than just pressing a button ever could...

the inventor's idea was to have this...



an insert inside of a bugle, held by an Honor Guard member...
so that no one would have to rely on finding or paying...
a real trumpeter who could actually still play the music...
and that the ever-increasing need for funeral buglers would be easily met...

the "Ceremonial Bugle" comes with options...



The American Ceremonial Bugle. Nickel silver 17 inch bugle,
New silver insert that plays "Taps" and other calls*. Hard shell carry case.

Price: $525 (48 states)



Those who have already purchased our original Ceremonial Bugle
can now upgrade to the new programmable insert
which includes new 2 inch speaker, Silver finish to match bugle,
USB 2.0, improved sound quality and 100MB memory for additional calls.
Free software available on our website.

We will provide one per bugle
and we will need the original invoice number
or serial number from current insert as proof of purchase.
Inserts carry a 1 year warranty.

Price: $170 inc. US shipping.

one can download "Calls" for US military branches...
British military branches & South African military branches...
with more available soon...

The Ceremonial Bugle was developed by Simon Britton,
Vice President of S & D Consulting.
Mr. Britton is a consultant from Newcastle upon Tyne, England,
who moved to the United States 13 years ago.
Based in New York City, S & D Consulting
seeks to enhance people’s lives
through the application of emerging technologies.

the sound wasn't tinny or "canned" sounding...
and is probably preferable to a bad player...
especially from a family member's point of view...

it was developed to be a better alternative to a CD or tape...
but though the performance is well-played and artful...
it will, to me anyway, always lack the "heart"...
and appreciation for the service & sacrifice of the departed...
found in the performance by a live player...

but then, I seem to have become obsolete in so many other ways...
especially in the last couple of years...

perhaps my thoughts & feelings are too...

9 comments:

The Calico Quilter said...

I read this yesterday and sat here wth my mouth hanging open. Same reaction today. Even buglers are obsolete. Good grief. And if I were at a military funeral where they pulled out a fake bugle I would be pissed. How cheesy can you get?

Sorry you didn't get to play.

The Calico Quilter said...

And another thing - the way things are going, NO ONE will be able to play an instrument in 20 years. It'll all be canned electronic stuff, with doctored vocals that are synthetically altered to perfection. Ugh. Think back to before recordings where many, many people played piano, guitar, violin, etc and would entertain each other getting together to play singly and together. What are losing? What have we lost?

The Calico Quilter said...

Oh, rats "...what are WE losing?..." I'm evidently losing the ability to proofread!

VivaLaGenX said...

I read about this happening a few months ago in my local newspaper. I had this conversation with my dad; he a veteran and me a previous band member. He too was appalled, but I told him that the notes for Taps is extremely hard. The octaves are difficult to play for the unpracticed. I can understand the dillema and the desire to not offend the family of the deceased. I don't agree, but I do have one thing to say...the bugle/trumpet player NEEDS TO JUST PRACTICE!

catsinger said...

...Calico...the trumpet has always been so hard to amplify properly, it's only recently(last 10yrs or so)
that the sound could be digitally reproduced on such a small piece of equipment with such fidelity...
also, I'm afraid that there are lots of people who would see this "pantomome" acted at a service... & not realize that it was "lip synced","Memorex" so to say...
...Viva, I agree re "they should just practice"...interestingly enough, the companys' stated "raison d'etre"was to provide a better alternative to CDs or tapes at services where live buglers were not available... NOT to replace poorly played renditions of Taps... I played Taps for the 1st time at 4H camp in 1960, the first of too many funerals in 1964... the last time in a service, Memorial Day, 2008...
I could have done this service with a little notice & sounded just as good as the recording, even at my age, 61...

Amy said...

I appreciate your PO very much the picture with the article. Continues to refuel!!

catsinger said...

...thanks Amy... I'm currently fighting a nasty virus... I'll be back to blogging when I feel better...

Anonymous said...

CS, Hope you get beter soon, miss your great blogs!!! us300j

catsinger said...

...thanks J...I've been trying to sleep away this virus for nearly 2 weeks... I still have waves of fever from time to time, but I think I'm doing better...