Evidence of a Double Pulse Muscle Activation Strategy in Drummers’ Trunk and Upper Limb Muscles During High-velocity Cymbal Crashes

Nicolas Latreille, Nadia R. Azar


Background: Playing the drum kit is a physically and cognitively demanding task, and skilled drummers share many such attributes with elite athletes. The ‘double pulse’ muscle activation (DPMA) pattern is a motor control strategy that has been observed in athletes of sports involving ballistic movements (e.g., baseball, golf, Mixed Martial Arts), and is believed to function to increase force transfer to the target. Objective: This study examined the muscle activation patterns of highly skilled drummers for evidence of a DPMA during high-velocity cymbal crashes. Methods: Five drummers were instrumented with electromyography electrodes on the right latissimus dorsi, triceps brachii, erector spinae, rectus abdominis, deltoideus posterior (DP), teres major, extensor carpi radialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris muscles. Six trials of data were collected, including a resting baseline, three maximum voluntary exertions (MVE) consisting of maximal effort cymbal crashes, a drumming pattern that included multiple crashes, and a ‘free-play’ trial. Results: The DPMA waveform was observed in all trials, but only those observed during the MVE trials were confirmed to coincide with the crashing movement via video analysis. The DP muscle – which functions to extend the shoulder joint to crash the stick on to the cymbal – exhibited confirmed DPMAs the most frequently. Conclusion: The extent to which drummers use the DPMA to produce high-velocity cymbal crashes within authentic playing conditions is inconclusive and needs further examination. Future study of the DPMA phenomenon in drummers would benefit from the addition of 3-dimensional motion capture to further understand the purpose of the muscle contractions of the DPMA.


Electromyography, Upper Extremity, Torso, Biomechanical Phenomena, Physical Performance, Music

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijkss.v.11n.2p.1


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