Zachary Wallmark

Zachary Wallmark's picture
Assistant Professor of Musicology
Affiliated Faculty, Center for Translational Neuroscience
210 Frohnmayer Music Building
Ph.D. 2014, Musicology, UCLA
M.A. 2007, Music History & Ethnomusicology, University of Oregon
B.M. 2003, Jazz Performance (Bass), NYU
GRAMMY Museum Foundation Scientific Research Grant
UO Presidential Fellowship in Humanistic Study
AMS Ruth A. Solie Award
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Partnership Grant
Sam Taylor Fellowship
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship
UCLA Transdisciplinary Seed Grant
UO Award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Music Scholarship

Zachary Wallmark is a musicologist with an interest in popular music, timbre, and music cognition. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 2014. Prior to his appointment at UO, Wallmark served on the faculty at Southern Methodist University, where he held an appointment in music and a courtesy appointment in psychology. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on American popular music history and analysis, music and emotion, film music, hip-hop, spirituality and music in post-war America, and opera history, among other topics.

Working at the intersection of the cognitive sciences and musicology, Wallmark’s research seeks to account for the role of musical timbre (or “tone”) in emotional response, aesthetic judgment, and music sociology, particularly in the context of post-1945 American popular music. His work has been published in both musicological and scientific journals, including Ethnomusicology Review, Music Perception, Psychology of Music, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, The Dutch Journal of Music Theory, Music & Science, Psychomusicology, Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics and Journal of the American Musicological Society. His award-winning co-edited volume (with Robert Fink and Melinda Latour), The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music, was published in 2018 (Oxford University Press). He is currently working on a monograph exploring the slippery psychoacoustic and social fault lines separating musical timbre from “noise,” with case studies drawn from free jazz, extreme heavy metal, and traditional Japanese music. Wallmark has also published articles on the neuroscience of musical empathy, cognitive linguistics of timbre, and improvisatory techniques of jazz pianist Andrew Hill.

Wallmark’s research has been profiled in the national news media, including Newsweek, Psychology Today, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and NPR. He is active in the Analysis, Creation, and Teaching of Orchestration (ACTOR) group, an international research partnership funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. His work has also been supported by the NEH and the GRAMMY Foundation. Wallmark has presented at a number of international conferences including the AMS, ICMPC, SMT, SMPC, and SEM. He was also an invited public lecturer at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. and the Soluna International Arts Festival. In addition to his academic work, Wallmark is a published composer, bassist, and performer of the Japanese shakuhachi flute.

Selected Recent Publications


Fink, R., Latour, M., & Wallmark, Z., (Eds.) (2018). The relentless pursuit of tone: Timbre in popular music. New York: Oxford University Press.

Articles & Book Chapters

Wallmark, Z., & Allen, S. E. (2020). Preschoolers’ crossmodal mappings of timbre. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 82(5), 2230–2236. DOI:

Wallmark, Z., Frank, R. J., & Nghiem, L. (2019). Creating novel tones from adjectives: An exploratory study using FM synthesis. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 29(4), 188-199. DOI:

Wallmark, Z. (2019). A corpus analysis of timbre semantics in orchestration treatises. Psychology of Music, 47(4), 585–605. DOI:

Wallmark, Z. (2019). Semantic crosstalk in timbre perception. Music & Science, 2, 1–18. DOI:

Wallmark, Z., & Kendall, R. A. (2018). Describing sound: The cognitive linguistics of timbre. In A. Rehding & E. I. Dolan (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of timbre. New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190637224.013.14

Fink, R., Wallmark, Z., & Latour, M. (2018). Chasing the dragon: In search of tone in popular music. In R. Fink, M. Latour, & Z. Wallmark (Eds.), The relentless pursuit of tone. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wallmark, Z. (2018). The sound of evil: Timbre, body, and sacred violence in death metal. In R. Fink, M. Latour, & Z. Wallmark (Eds.), The relentless pursuit of tone. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wallmark, Z., Deblieck, C., & Iacoboni, M. (2018). Neurophysiological effects of trait empathy in music listening. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 12(66). DOI:

Wallmark, Z., Iacoboni, M., Deblieck, C., & Kendall, R. A. (2018). Embodied listening and timbre: Perceptual, acoustical, and neural correlates. Music Perception, 35(3), 332–363. DOI:

Wallmark, Z. (2016). Theorizing the saxophonic scream in free jazz improvisation. In G. Siddall & E. Waterman (Eds.), Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound, and Subjectivity, 233–244. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

Wallmark, Z. (2013). Noise, music, and power in the industrial city, 1890–1930. Music Research Forum, 28, 55–88.

Wallmark, Z. (2012). Sacred abjection in Zen shakuhachi. Ethnomusicology Review, 17.

Wallmark, Z. (2008). An alternative temporal approach to jazz improvisation in the music of Andrew Hill. Tijdschrift voor Musiektheorie [The Dutch Journal of Music Theory], 13(1), 69–75.