Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Meg Chang


This literature review seeks to better understand the unique ways in which the four contemporary violin family instruments - violin, viola, cello, and double bass - can be used in music therapy with individuals experiencing mania, psychosis, and dissociation. In this paper, I explore the ways in which these four instruments have been used throughout Western music history and the different roles assigned to them by composers, as well as the ways in which they are used in music therapy today. I then explore the acute psychiatric presentations of mania, psychosis, and dissociation, and the treatments and goals that tend to be indicated for individuals experiencing each. Drawing from these two bodies of research, I infer ways in which each member of this unique instrument family can be used in the treatment of individuals with these presentations. Findings suggest that each of these instruments possesses characteristics or unique qualities that may lend themselves to music therapy with these individuals. The violin’s acoustic perfection and brilliant, focused sound, the viola’s acoustic imperfection and proclivity for sounds that resemble human speech, the cello’s ability to firmly ground the player through its connection to the ground and the manner in which it is played, and the double bass’s proclivity for supporting through its low tones and rhythmic stability, are among some of these characteristics and qualities. These inferences can be taken into consideration for future research into the use of violin family or other instruments in music therapy with individuals with acute psychiatric presentations.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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