Why is it called tapping?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

The term “tapping” in relation to the origins of the word “Taps” can be traced back to military traditions and practices. In the context of bugle calls and military ceremonies, “tapping” refers to the rhythmic drum taps that were used as a signal for various activities.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, military units would often use drums and bugles to communicate and convey orders. One of the most important daily routines in military camps was the evening ceremony known as “Tattoo.” This ceremony signaled the end of the day and the time for soldiers to retire to their quarters. The word “Tattoo” is believed to have originated from the Dutch phrase “Taptoe,” which meant “close the taps” or “turn off the taps.”

In the absence of bugles or when bugle calls were not practical, drum taps were used to replicate the sound of the bugle call for “Extinguish Lights.” This bugle call was traditionally played to signal the end of the day and for soldiers to extinguish their lights and go to sleep. The three drum taps imitated the melody of the bugle call, providing a clear and recognizable signal for soldiers to follow.

Over time, the drum taps became synonymous with the bugle call itself. The term “Taps” gradually emerged as a shorthand for the drum taps that signaled the end of the day or a somber moment of remembrance. The simplicity and clarity of the drum taps made them an effective means of communication, even in situations where bugles were not available.

The word “Taps” eventually became widely adopted and recognized as the name for the bugle call itself, even though it originated from the drum taps that imitated the bugle melody. Today, “Taps” is most commonly associated with its use during military funerals, where it is played to honor fallen soldiers and signify the final farewell.

As an AI language model, I don’t have personal experiences or situations to share, but I hope this detailed explanation sheds light on the origins of the term “Taps” and why it is called tapping.