Type: Aerophones > Reeds > Shawms.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 422.112
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The gyaling [Tibetan: རྒྱ་གླི་, Wylie: rgya gli, English: also spelled gya ling, gya-ling, jahlin, jah-lin, jahling, jah-ling, Rgya-gling etc]. Gyaling literally meaning “Indian trumpet” is a traditional woodwind instrument used in Tibet. Specifically, it is a double reed horn much like the sorna used mainly in Tibetan monasteries during puja [chanting and prayer] and is associated with peaceful deities and the idea of devotion.
Usage in Ritual: A typical Tibetan Buddhist ritual orchestra consists of a gyaling, dungchen, kangling, dungkar [conch shells], drillbu [handbells], silnyen [vertical cymbals] and most importantly, chanting. Together, the music creates a state of mind to invite or summon deities.
Playing Technique: To play a gyaling one would require a technique called circular breathing. In which the instrument will constantly be emitting a linear sound, even while the musician inhales. The reed is fully submerged in the player’s mouth but does not touch it; the lips are pressed against the flat metal channel below the reed.
Often, the style of performance is similar to that of a bagpipe, with many short and fast neighbour tones. A gyaling player tunes the instrument with the breath. The way of playing a gyaling varies depending on the lineage and ritual.
Construction: The gyaling is oboe-like in appearance with a long hardwood body and copper brass bell. The instrument is generally covered with ornate embellishments of coloured glass. The double reed, which is made from a single stem of marsh grass, is placed upon a small metal channel that protrudes out of the top. There are eight finger-holes on a standard gyaling.