Gyaling

Name: Gyaling.
Type: Double Reed > Aerophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 422.112
Country: Tibet.
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.

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