Perambulating the Bounds

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Musical innovation courtesy of the US Navy

A friend of mine is in the process of making funeral arrangements for his father who died recently. He was a Navy vet, and they are giving him an honor guard and the other trappings that go with that. But one thing’s been a problem—finding a bugler to play taps. The Navy can’t find someone, and my friend’s family doesn’t want them to come in and just set a boom box down on a chair. Apparently this is not an uncommon dilemma, because the Navy has a solution. To quote my friend: “they've got a fake horn with a microchip, amp and speaker inside. The sailor holds it up to his lips and presses a button. Taps comes out.” Go here to check it out and place your order.

First of all, this has got to be another example of how people used to know how to do stuff they just can’t do now. There’s no way buglers did it full time. It must have been just the job of someone in the unit. Maybe the guy who played cornet in high school band. But now there’s no one around who can figure out how to buzz their lips enough to get those few notes out.

It’s also so fitting that there’s a technological solution. Why get someone to learn how to do something when you can pay a contractor $500. It doesn’t really save much effort, because someone still has to stand there and hold the thing. But demand is hopping—the website talks about backorders.

I love the imitation of someone playing the bugle. It’s the same as a boom box—actually it might sound less like a bugle depending on the source file and the amplification. But what matters is there’s some guy standing there, pretending like he’s doing something. They should just get a guy in uniform to hoist a boom box on his shoulder. But I guess that wouldn’t provide, in the words of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense John M. Molino, “a dignified 'visual' of a bugler playing Taps, something families tell us they want."

Call me when they've got one programmed with Clifford Brown solos. Now that would solve a problem I've got.


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