List of Bugle Calls

The bugle has been used throughout history to send signals to troops.

Throughout history, bugles have signaled to troops across a large distance to perform specific functions. With its penetrating sound, piercing range, and sturdy construction, the bugle served to unite troops, wake them, provide reminders, signal rest, and honor fallen soldiers. Today, there are varieties of calls that buglers must know and memorize.


Before bugles came on the scene, drums were used to signal commands.

Wars fought with soldiers in close file did not require bugles. Soldiers listened to drummers for cues on how to proceed in battle. As British armies started to expand their pursuits to different territories and fought wars with lighter units that spread out, new strategies designated commands to soldiers. The bugle gradually replaced the drum for keeping troops aware of unit commands. The bugle was a better choice for battle due to its low weight and compact design in relation to the drum.

Warning Calls

Several bugle melodies are still in use today. Warning calls warn troops that a command is pending. These calls are useful to get the attention of the troops so that the commander does not have to scream over a disorganized unit. Different warning calls will inform the troops what type of command is coming. Warning calls typically include "First Call", "Drill Call", "Guard Mounting" and "Attention". Alarm Calls Unlike a warning call, alarm calls indicate a need for immediate action by the soldiers. There are two main types of calls in this type of bugle call. The "Fire Call" indicates there is a fire. Similar to the drills that many experiences when going to school, it may also indicate a fire drill. The other type of alarm call used in the military is a "Call-to-arms." This call informs the soldiers that they must immediately return to their posts and prepare for battle.

Service Calls

Service calls indicate that a military service is being offered.

Service calls require the least immediacy on the part of the soldier. These calls denote a particular military service offering. These calls could be used to indicate anything from a religious service to a meal. There are fifteen total service calls including the easily recognized and most somber of the calls, "Taps". "Taps" notifies the troops about lights out for the night and is used in military funerals to honor fallen soldiers.

Formation Calls

"Formation Calls" provide notice to soldiers that they should prepare to line up in a designated formation. The type of call required is dependent upon the particular formation. There are three main calls, "Adjutants Call", "Assembly" and "First Sergeant's Call."

Ceremonial Calls

Ceremonial calls are usually played by a military band.

Ceremonial calls introduce a leader and play at official military events. A bugle cannot play many of the ceremonial calls because the bugle is only able to operate on overtones of the fundamental note of the bugle. Since ceremonial calls are normally not battle oriented, it is not necessary to have calls specific to the bugle. However, some calls which can be played on the bugle are the "General's March", "Flag Officer's March", "To the Color", and "Sound Off".


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