Last Updated 23 | 09 | 2012 at 11:00

Lifestyle / Culture Cafe

A tattoo which lasts an evening

Article By:
Joanna Demarco

The expression ‘military tattoo’ comes from the Dutch expression “tap toe”, which, in an onomatopoeic nature captures the sounds, and the process of the closing of inn doors.  The word was then linked to the sound made by the mallets which were used to shut beer
barrels, which sounded much like the sound of a drum.

It was then that the word was used to refer to the last military call at the time of curfews. In the 1700s, drummers could be seen criss-crossing the streets of Dutch villages, signalling to soldiers to go back to their barracks with the sound of their drum, also hinting to the inns to call it a night and close their doors. 

Originally meaning a military drum performance, a military tattoo subsequently came to be a blanket term for more general army displays such as marching routines, military ability and artistic demonstrations, which are presented for entertainment. spoke to organiser Alfred Busietta about this year’s 9th edition of the Malta Tattoo, which is “the annual tourism draw reflecting Malta’s military music heritage, which continues to be a yearly highlight in the local calendar.”

“The Maltese are very fond of band music,” said Mr Busietta. You can’t argue with that - in Malta, there are 90 active band clubs with a total of 3,931 persons who are resident or trainee band players. With a total band club membership of over 30,000, these form over six per cent of the total population aged 5-84 years.

“The active presence of tourists in band marches and musical programmes also indicates that band music is an added value to our tourism product,” he added.

This year’s Military Tattoo will be taking place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 October at the MFCC in Ta’ Qali. Performances will start at 18:00. Both the Malta Police Band and the Malta Police Precision Drill Team will be taking part in the event. The event will this year feature bands from Italy, Poland, Scotland, England and a top Roller Skating group from Estonia. These will participate together with the local Zurrieq Scouts Pipes and Drums, the Marsa Scouts Pipes and Drums and the Marsa Scouts Corps of Drums, the Wallace Pipes and Drums, the Malta Police Precision Drill Team, the Malta Police Band and the Armed Forces of Malta Band. The last two bands have always been a huge attraction.

Tickets may be purchased online from, or from the MFCC offices in Ta’ Qali. View the website

Photos by Alfred Busietta

Please sign in or register to post comments.