Click the Tabs to see the History
The “Taptoo” story begins in 17th Century Netherlands (1600 a.d.) during the 30 years war. Dutch fortresses there were garrisoned with mercenary troops from Scotland, England, Germany, and Switzerland and were commanded by Dutch officer corps.
"Doe Den Tap Toe"
Each evening at 21:30 hrs the garrison would have the signal “doe den tap toe” sounded. It was an instruction to the innkeepers and public houses in the city out side the garrison.
Translation: "Shut off the tap"
In English “doe den tap toe” translates literally to “turn off the tap” and was a signal to innkeepers to stop serving beer to the mercenaries and soldiers so they would return to the garrison and barracks for the evening.
The signal was like many other signals in the military at the time, a musical cue used to communicate. Originally the signal was sounded by the beating of the drums throughout the town outside the garrison.
Over time bugles became the command, control, and communication systems of the day and several versions of the bugle call “Tattoo” and “Taptoo” began to emerge to notify soldiers to cease evening’s drinking and return.
End of the Day
The french bugle call “to extinguish lights” as well as “first post” and “last post” were bugle calls used to signal the end of the day and were common on military installations and bases. In us military garrisons and bases, General George Washington used the term “Taptoo”.
“In future the Reveille will beat at day-break; the troop at 8 in the morning; the retreat at sunset and taptoo at nine o’Clock in the evening.”
– General George Washington’s Papers
The process of signaling the end of the duty day and waking day are practices still in place today on U.S. military bases.
Taps - The Bugle Call
There were many iterations of the bugle calls “last post” and “tattoo” and they were eventually replaced by a bugle call titled “Taps” composed by General Daniel Butterfield. This familiar melody is adapted from General Winfield Scott’s “Scott Tattoo” bugle call of the 19th century.
The call it’s self signals “The day is done, all is well, it is safe to sleep”.
The Shows - Live!
Beginning in the late 19th Century, these end of the day signals began being opened to the public and became popular entertaining shows that many exist to this day.
- 1880 – 1999 The Royal Tournament
- 1894 – 2010 Aldershot Military Tattoo
- 1950 – Present Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
- 1955 – Present Nationale Taptoe
- 1979 – Present Royal Nova Scotial International Tattoo
- 1994 – Present Norwegian Military Tattoo
- 1997 – Present Virginia International Tattoo
- 2014 – Present Colorado Military Taptoo