Biomechanical Research on Bowed String Musicians

A Scoping Study

Performing arts biomechanics is concerned with quantifying the musculoskeletal demands of artistic tasks. The growing body of related research has prompted this scoping study, solely focused on quantitative research, to summarize the state of the science, identify knowledge gaps, and identify opportunities for future research. OBJECTIVES: To identify, summarize, and categorize quantitative research on the biomechanics of violin, viola, cello, and double bass players, using scoping study methodology. METHODS: Established scoping study methodology was used to identify and categorize existing research. We identified 74 articles for review. Of these, 34 met our scoping study criteria and were included in this study. RESULTS: Twenty-one of the 34 articles that met the scoping criteria were published since 2000. Investigations using electromyography (16 studies) and kinematics (15 studies) comprise the bulk of the research. Two studies employed force transducers for data collection. Violinists were the most frequently studied musicians (22 studies) and double bass players were the least (1 study). Fewer than half of the studies used solely professional musicians as their subjects (13 studies). CONCLUSIONS: This scoping study confirmed that quantitative biomechanical research into bowed string musicians has been performed with increasing frequency and that there are voids in the research, particularly in investigating mechanisms of injury and protective strategies. Currently, arts biomechanics research is largely descriptive in nature. There are few studies that investigate protective strategies, although it is expected that the field will progress to incorporate this type of research.

Journal Medical Problems of Performing Artists
Year 2013
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 212-218

Kelleher, Leila K.; Campbell, Kody R.; Dickey, James P. (2013) Biomechanical Research on Bowed String Musicians: A Scoping Study. In: Medical Problems of Performing Artists, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 212-218. Available at


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