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Canyon Country man plies his pipes

Posted: January 26, 2013 3:56 p.m.
Updated: January 26, 2013 3:56 p.m.

Bagpiper and lifelong Canyon Country resident Chris Carson plays "Going Home" on his bagpipes graveside for a funeral at Oakwood Memorial park in Chatsworth on Saturday.

For more than 40 years, Chris Carson has known being a piper was his bag.

And even now, the Canyon Country resident says he has a certain passion for the bagpipes.

Carson was inspired to pick up the instrument as a teenager after his older brother began playing.

And with an older brother who played and Irish ancestors on both sides of his family, it might be easy to say the instrument is in Carson’s blood.

That’s why, over the decades, he has plied his pipes in a variety of groups and bands. Carson said one of his fondest memories over the years was performing and marching in a Newhall Christmas parade in 1970.

The history of the bagpipe can be traced back centuries; the earliest forms of the instrument emerged in the 12th century in countries like Greece and Egypt.

The pipes found their way to more traditional venues, like Scotland and Ireland, in the 1500s.

It was there that the instrument gained its recognizable form — an air bag sporting three pipes and a flute.

Playing the bagpipe takes a great deal of coordination. First, a piper has to keep up a steady stream of breath into the instrument’s bass pipe. He or she then plays the melody on the chanter pipes.

“It’s like patting your head and rubbing your tummy,” Carson said.

While coordination is one skill necessary for any potential piper, the outfit is another.

Many pipers, including Carson, perform attire that includes a traditional cap called a Glengarry, a pouch called a sporran and a kilt that usually displays a pattern specific to a family.

“If you’re going to play an event, you’ve got to wear the uniform,” Carson said with a laugh.

Another benefit of playing the bagpipes is becoming a member of a tight-knit and tartan-clad community. Carson said he is close with many other pipers in and around Southern California.

While Carson is not in any musical groups at the moment, he still keeps himself busy as a soloist and offers lessons out of his home in Canyon Country.

His lessons attract a wide array of students. One is a 45-year-old man who is “really getting into it,” Carson said.

Carson’s solo performances take him to a variety of parties, weddings and funerals. Most recently, he played a series of three songs — “Danny Boy,” Amazing Grace” and “Going Home” — at a funeral in Chatsworth on Saturday.

Once he even played at a dog show — to recognize Scottish terriers, he said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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