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Zachary Wallmark

Assistant Professor of Musicology

Zachary Wallmark received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 2014. Working at the intersection of the cognitive sciencesand musicology, Wallmark’s research seeks to account for the role of musical timbre (or “tone”) in emotional response and aesthetic judgment, particularly in the context of post-1945 American popular music and jazz. His work has been published in musicological and scientific journals and books, including Ethnomusicology Review, Music Perception, Psychology of Music, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, The Dutch Journal of Music Theory, Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound, and Subjectivity (Duke, 2016), andThe Oxford Handbook of Timbre (Oxford, in press). His co-edited volume, The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music, was published in 2018 (Oxford). He is currently working on a monograph under contract with Oxford University Press. Wallmark’s research has been supported by the NEH and the SSHRC (Canada). In addition to his position as assistant professor of musicology at SMU Meadows, Wallmark holds a courtesy appointment in SMU Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences as assistant professor of psychology.

Wallmark currently serves as director of the MuSci Lab. The lab has been profiled in the national news media, including Newsweek, Psychology Today, Medical News Today, Science Daily, Big Think, and NPR.

Wallmark has presented at a number of international conferences including the AMS, ICMPC, SMT, SMPC, and SEM. He was an invited speaker at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. (2018). Prior to his appointment at SMU, Wallmark taught at UCLA (2010–2013) and the University of Oregon (2005–2007). He is a published composer, bassist, and performer of the Japanese shakuhachi flute.


Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
M.A., University of Oregon
B.M., New York University


  • Introduction to Music in History and Culture (MUHI 1302)
  • Survey of Opera History (MUHI 4345) and Issues in Opera History (MUHI 6345)
  • Studies in Popular Music (MUHI 4355)
  • Music and Emotion (MUHI 4357)
  • Seminar in Musicology (undergraduate and graduate, MUHI 4302/6336)
    • Spirituality and Music in Post-War America
    • Psychology of Musical Affect
  • Introduction to Graduate Studies (MUHI 6335)

Selected Publications


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

Peer-Reviewed Articles & Book Chapters

Wallmark, Z. (in press) A corpus analysis of timbre semantics in orchestration treatises. Psychology of Music.

Wallmark, Z., & Kendall, R. A. (in press) Describing sound: The cognitive linguistics of timbre. In A. Rehding & E. I. Dolan (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of timbre. New York: Oxford University Press.

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:10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00066

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.

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. (2014). Embodied cognition. In W. F. Thompson (Ed.), Music in the social and behavioral sciences, Vol. 1, 372–374. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Wallmark, Z. (2014). Timbre. In W. F. Thompson (Ed.), Music in the social and behavioral sciences, Vol. 2, 1127–1128. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

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. doi:

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.

Selected Grants and Fellowships

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Partnership Grant (2018–24)
  • Sam Taylor Fellowship (2017)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship (2017)
  • SMU Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute Fellowship (2015–17)
  • UCLA Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2013–14)
  • UCLA Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Transdisciplinary Seed Grant (2012)
  • UCLA Friends of Musicology Best Seminar Paper Award (2010)
  • University of Oregon, Award for Outstanding Achievement in Graduate Music Scholarship (2007)

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Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts



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