Profile picture of Zachary Wallmark

Zachary Wallmark

Associate Professor of Musicology
Area Chair, Musicology and Ethnomusicology
Center for Translational Neuroscience, Music
Phone: 541-346-3784
Office: 210 Frohnmayer Music Bldg
Research Interests: Popular music, music cognition, timbre, sound studies

Zachary Wallmark is a musicologist with an interest in popular music, timbre, and music cognition. Prior to his appointment at UO, Wallmark served on the music faculty at Southern Methodist University, where he also held 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, timbre, music and politics, and opera, 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 (tone) in emotional response, aesthetic judgment, and music sociology, particularly in the context of post-1945 American popular music. His book Nothing but Noise: Timbre and Musical Meaning at the Edge (Oxford, 2022) explores the slippery psychoacoustic and social fault lines separating perceptions of musical timbre from “noise,” with reception case studies drawn from free jazz, extreme heavy metal, and traditional Japanese music. Wallmark’s work has been published in both musicological and scientific journals, including Emotion, Ethnomusicology Review, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Music Perception, Music & Science, Music Theory Online, Psychology of Music, and Psychomusicology. He is also coeditor (with Robert Fink and Melinda Latour) of the award-winning volume, The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music (Oxford, 2018). 

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 Museum Foundation. Wallmark has presented at numerous international conferences including the AMS, ICMPC, SMT, SMPC, and SEM. He was 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, commercial musician, jazz bassist, and performer of the Japanese shakuhachi flute.

  • 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


Nothing but Noise: Timbre and Musical Meaning at the Edge. Oxford University Press, 2022.

The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music. (coedited with Robert Fink and Melinda Latour). Oxford University Press, 2018.


Wallmark, Z. (2022). Analyzing vocables in rap: A case study of Megan Thee Stallion. Music Theory Online, 28(2).

Tabak, B. A.*, Wallmark, Z.*, Nghiem, L. H., Alvi, T., Sunahara, C. S., Lee, J., & Cao, J. (in press). Initial evidence for a relation between behaviorally assessed empathic accuracy and affect sharing for people and music. Emotion.

Wallmark, Z., Nghiem, L. H., & Marks, L. E. (2021). Does timbre modulate visual perception? Exploring crossmodal interactions, Music Perception, 39(1), 1–20.

Wallmark, Z., & Kendall, R. A. (2021). Describing sound: The cognitive linguistics of timbre. In E. I. Dolan & A. Rehding (Eds.), Oxford handbook of timbre (pp. 579–608). Oxford University Press.

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

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

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

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

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 (pp. 1–17). 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 (pp. 65–87). Oxford University Press.

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

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.

            * Authors contributed equally