Monks playing gyalings at Spituk monastery, near Leh, Ladakh, India
The gyaling (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 shawm used mainly in Tibetan monasteries during puja (chanting and prayer) and is associated with peaceful deities and the idea of devotion.
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 colored 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 (8) fingerholes on a standard gyaling.
To play a gyaling requires 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. A gyaling player tunes the instrument with the breath. The way of playing a gyaling varies depending on the lineage and ritual.
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.
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