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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 musicology and the cognitive sciences, 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 articles have been published in both musicological and scientific journals, including Ethnomusicology Review, Music Perception, Psychology of Music, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, and The Dutch Journal of Music Theory, as well as the edited collections Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound, and Subjectivity (Duke, 2016), The Oxford Handbook of Timbre (Oxford, in press), and The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music (Oxford, in press), the latter of which he also co-edited. His forthcoming monograph, Nothing but Noise: Timbre and Musical Meaning at the Edge, is under contract with Oxford University Press. He was the recipient of an NEH Fellowship in 2017.

Wallmark currently serves as director of the MuSci Lab, an interdisciplinary research collective and lab facility dedicated to the empirical study of music at SMU. In 2015–16, he was co-organizer of a Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute Fellows Seminar, “Beyond Two Cultures: Reconciling Sciences and Humanities,” a campus-wide research group that explored strategies for overcoming the “two cultures” divide in American intellectual life.

Wallmark has presented at a number of international conferences including the American Musicological Society, International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, Society for Music Theory, Society for Music Perception and Cognition, and Society for Ethnomusicology. Prior to his appointment at SMU, Wallmark taught at UCLA (2010–13) and the University of Oregon (2005–07). 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)



Fink, R., Latour, M., & Wallmark, Z., (Eds.) (in press, 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, 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.

Fink, R., Wallmark, Z., & Latour, M. (in press, 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. (in press, 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

  • 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)

Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts



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