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Ladakh Horn Players 0032 tiny.jpg
Monks playing gyalings at Spituk monastery, near Leh, Ladakh, India

Double reed
Related instruments

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 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.[1]


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.[2] There are eight (8) fingerholes on a standard gyaling.[3]

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.[4]

Usage in Ritual[edit]

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.

Often, the style of performance is similar to that of a bagpipe, with many short and fast neighbor tones.

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