Bowed string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by a bow rubbing the strings. The bow rubbing the string causes vibration which the instrument emits as sound.

Despite the numerous specialist studies devoted to the origin of bowing, the origin of bowing remains unknown.[1]

Some say that the bow was introduced to Europe from the Middle East [2][3][4] while others say the bow was not introduced from the Middle East, but the other way round, that that the bow may have had its origin from a more frequent intercourse with North Europe and Western Europe[5][full citation needed][6][full citation needed]

List of bowed string instruments

Violin family

Niccolò Paganini playing the violin, by Georg Friedrich Kersting (1785–1847)
Variants on the standard members of the violin family include

Viol family (Viola da Gamba family)

Karl Friedrich Abel playing the bass Viola da Gamba, by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788)
Variants on the standard four members of the viol family include

Lyra and rebec type

An Indonesian music performer playing with his Rebab.

Chinese bowed instruments

Two performers playing the Erhu, sometimes known as the Chinese fiddle.

Rosined wheel instruments

A performer playing the Morin Khuur, the Mongolian Horse Fiddle

The following instruments are sounded by means of a turning wheel that acts as the bow:

Other bowed instruments

See also


  1. ^ Friedrich Behn, Musikleben im Altertum und frühen page 159
  2. ^ "Rabab". Encyclopedia Britannica. Musical instrument. Retrieved 6 April 2019 – via
  3. ^ "Lira". Encyclopedia Britannica. Musical instrument. Retrieved 6 April 2019 – via
  4. ^ Panum, Hortense (1939). The stringed instruments of the Middle Ages, their evolution and development. London, UK: William Reeves. p. 434.
  5. ^ "History of musical instruments and history of tone-systems and notation". Catechism of Musical History. p. 27 – via Google books.
  6. ^ Sandys, William; Forster, Simon Andrew. The history of the violin, and other instruments played on with the bow from the remotest times to the present – via Internet Archive (