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Products for grant FA-251018-17

FA-251018-17
Timbre and Musical Meaning
Zachary Wallmark, Southern Methodist University

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-251018-17

The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music (Book)
Title: The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music
Editor: Wallmark, Zachary
Editor: Fink, Robert
Editor: Latour, Melinda
Abstract: The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music assembles a wide spectrum of contemporary perspectives on how sound functions in an equally wide array of popular music. With subjects ranging from the twang of country banjos and the sheen of hip-hop strings to the crunch of amplified guitars and the thump of subwoofers on the dance floor, this volume attempts to bridge the gap between timbre, the purely acoustic characteristics of sound waves, and tone, an emergent musical construct that straddles the borderline between the perceptual and the political. The book’s chapters engage with the entire history of popular music as recorded sound, from the 1930s to the present day, under four large categories. The chapters in part I, “Genre,” ask how sonic signatures define musical identities and publics; part II, “Voice,” considers the most naturalized musical instrument, the human voice, as racial and gendered signifier, as property or likeness, and as raw material for algorithmic perfection through software; part III, “Instrument,” tells stories of the way some iconic pop-music machines—guitars, strings, synthesizers—got (or lost) their distinctive sounds; and part IV, “Production,” puts it all together, asking structural questions about what happens in a recording studio, what is produced (sonic cartoons, rockist authenticity, empty space?), and what it all might mean. The book includes a general theoretical introduction by the editors and an afterword by noted popular music scholar Simon Frith.
Year: 2018
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Type: Edited Volume
Copy sent to NEH?: No

Describing Sound: The Cognitive Linguistics of Timbre (Book Section)
Title: Describing Sound: The Cognitive Linguistics of Timbre
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Author: Kendall, Roger A.
Editor: Rehding, Alexander
Editor: Dolan, Emily I.
Abstract: Timbre exists at the confluence of the physical and the perceptual, and due to inconsistencies between these frames, it is notoriously hard to describe. This chapter examines the relationship between timbre and language, offering a critical review of theoretical and empirical thought on timbre semantics and providing a preliminary cognitive linguistic account of timbre description. It first traces the major conceptual and methodological advances in psychological timbre research since the 1970s with a focus on the mediating role of verbalization in previous paradigms. It then discusses the cognitive mechanisms underlying how listeners map timbral qualities onto verbal attributes. Applying a cognitive linguistic approach, the chapter concludes that timbre description may reflect certain fundamental aspects of human embodiment, which may help account for certain trans-historical and cross-cultural consistencies in descriptive practices.
Year: 2018
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Book Title: The Oxford Handbook of Timbre

Chasing the Dragon: In Search of Tone in Popular Music (Book Section)
Title: Chasing the Dragon: In Search of Tone in Popular Music
Author: Fink, Robert
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Author: Latour, Melinda
Editor: Fink, Robert
Editor: Latour, Melinda
Editor: Wallmark, Zachary
Abstract: The introduction discusses the conceptual underpinnings of the book, focusing on the ideological values ascribed to tone in popular music. It begins with a discussion of electric guitar tone and the amateur and professional musicians who experiment with it through various means of production and amplification. This transitions into a discussion of the definitions of "tone" as opposed to "timbre" and the relationship between the two concepts that will be discussed in the ensuing chapters. It concludes with a discussion of the organization of the book and a summary of chapters.
Year: 2018
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Book Title: The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music

The Sound of Evil: Timbre, Body, and Sacred Violence in Death Metal (Book Section)
Title: The Sound of Evil: Timbre, Body, and Sacred Violence in Death Metal
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Editor: Fink, Robert
Editor: Latour, Melinda
Editor: Wallmark, Zachary
Abstract: This chapter investigates the “brutal” timbral soundscape of death metal music. Through a discussion of electric guitar tone and vocal techniques, Wallmark contends that metal musicians knowingly manipulate biological responses within a symbolically mediated context, pitting “noise” against “music” in a ritualized dialectic. Theorizing the role of distortion in the affective vocabulary of the style, particularly its simulation of bodily pain, the chapter invokes Rene Girard’s theory of sacrificial violence to conclude that timbre performs potent cultural work in the ritual space of the death metal concert. Sociological and psychological aspects of “extreme” timbres are discussed in conclusion.
Year: 2018
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Book Title: The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music

Neurophysiological effects of trait empathy in music listening (Article)
Title: Neurophysiological effects of trait empathy in music listening
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Author: Deblieck, Choi
Author: Iacoboni, Marco
Abstract: The social cognitive basis of music processing has long been noted, and recent research has shown that trait empathy is linked to musical preferences and listening style. Does empathy modulate neural responses to musical sounds? We designed two fMRI experiments to address this question. In Experiment 1, subjects listened to brief isolated musical timbres while being scanned. In Experiment 2, subjects listened to excerpts of music in four conditions (familiar liked/disliked and unfamiliar liked/disliked). For both types of musical stimuli, emotional and cognitive forms of trait empathy modulated activity in sensorimotor and cognitive areas: in the first experiment, empathy was primarily correlated with activity in SMA, IFG, and insula; in experiment 2, empathy was mainly correlated with activity in prefrontal, temporo-parietal, and reward areas. Taken together, these findings reveal the interactions between bottom-up and top-down mechanisms of empathy in response to musical sounds, in line with recent findings from other cognitive domains.
Year: 2018
Primary URL: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00066/abstract
Access Model: Open access
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Publisher: Frontiers

A corpus analysis of timbre semantics in orchestration treatises (Article)
Title: A corpus analysis of timbre semantics in orchestration treatises
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Abstract: What does the common descriptive lexicon for instrumental sound tell us about how we conceptualize musical timbre? Perceptual studies have revealed a number of verbal attributes that reliably map onto timbral qualities, but the conventions of timbre description in spoken and written discourse remain poorly understood. Books on orchestration provide a valuable source of natural language about instrumental timbre. This article uses methods from corpus linguistics to explore the semantic features of timbre through a quantitative analysis of 11 orchestration treatises and manuals. Findings reveal a relatively constrained vocabulary for timbre: about 50 adjectives account for half of all descriptions in the corpus. The timbre lexicon can be categorized according to affect, matter, metaphor, mimesis, action, acoustics, and onomatopoeia, and further reduced to three latent conceptual dimensions, which are labeled and discussed. Descriptive patterns vary systematically by instrument and instrument family, suggesting certain regularities and consistencies to timbre description in the orchestral tradition. This study helps test the long-held assumption that conventions of timbre description are vague and unsystematic, and offers a cognitive linguistic account of the timbre-language connection.
Year: 2018
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Psychology of Music
Publisher: Sage

Embodied listening and timbre: Perceptual, acoustic, and neural correlates (Article)
Title: Embodied listening and timbre: Perceptual, acoustic, and neural correlates
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Author: Iacoboni, Marco
Author: Deblieck, Choi
Author: Kendall, Roger A.
Abstract: Timbre plays an essential role in transmitting musical affect, and in recent years, our understanding of emotional expression in music has been enriched by contributions from the burgeoning field of embodied music cognition. However, little attention has been paid to timbre as a possible mediator between musical embodiment and affect. In three experiments, we investigated the embodied dimensions of timbre perception by focusing on timbral qualities considered ‘‘noisy’’ and aversive. In Experiment 1, participants rated brief isolated natural timbres scaled into ordinal levels of "noisiness." Experiment 2 employed the same design with a focus on polyphonic timbre, using brief (400 ms) excerpts from 6 popular music genres as stimuli. In Experiment 3, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to explore neural activations associated with perception of stimuli from Experiment 1. Converging results from behavioral, acoustical, and fMRI data suggest a motor component to timbre processing, particularly timbral qualities considered "noisy," indicating a possible enactive mechanism in timbre processing. Activity in somatomotor areas, insula, and the limbic system increased the more participants disliked a timbre, and connectivity between the premotor cortex and insula relay decreased. Implications for recent theories of embodied music cognition, affect, and timbre semantics are discussed in conclusion.
Year: 2018
Primary URL: DOI: 10.1525/mp.2018.35.3.332
Primary URL Description: Article DOI
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Music Perception
Publisher: University of California Press

Timbre Semantics in Orchestration: A Corpus-Linguistic Study (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Timbre Semantics in Orchestration: A Corpus-Linguistic Study
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Abstract: What does the common descriptive lexicon for instrumental sound tell us about how we conceptualize timbre? Perceptual studies have revealed a number of verbal attributes that reliably map onto timbral qualities, but the conventions of timbre description in spoken and written discourse remain poorly understood. Books on orchestration and instrumentation provide a valuable source of natural language used to describe qualities of instrumental timbre. Using methods from corpus linguistics, in this study I explore the conceptual features of timbre description through a quantitative analysis of a corpus of eleven popular orchestration treatises and manuals. Timbre descriptors were manually extracted from the corpus, producing a total frequency of 3666 words (tokens) and 879 unique types. The five most frequent adjectives used to describe instrumental timbre were brilliant, rich, dark, full, and bright; the mean frequency was 4.5, and 12% of the dataset consisted of words or expressions that only occurred once. Data were also subdivided by instrument. To explore the underlying semantic structure of the word list, categories were generated through an inductive sorting process. The categorization scheme was validated with inter-rater reliability analysis, revealing seven conceptual classes of timbre descriptors: affect, matter, metaphor, mimesis, action, acoustics, and onomatopoeia. Log-linear analyses indicated statistically significant differences of category membership between orchestral instruments. I interpret these novel results through the lens of embodied music cognition and conceptual metaphor theory, and close with a discussion of the implications of this study for our broader understanding of the semantic space of timbre.
Date: 8/1/2017
Conference Name: Society for Music Perception and Cognition Biannual Meeting, San Diego

What ‘The Brain On Music’ Tells Us About Human Social Cognition (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: What ‘The Brain On Music’ Tells Us About Human Social Cognition
Abstract: A public lecture on music and the brain, with a focus on what contemporary sciences of the mind can illuminate about classical music.
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Date: 12/8/2017
Location: Dallas Symphony Orchestrat Bach's Lunch Lecture Series

I Hear You: The Social Cognitive Basis of Music Listening (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: I Hear You: The Social Cognitive Basis of Music Listening
Abstract: A public lecture discussing the neural architecture of music processing in relation to social cognition and theories of empathy.
Author: Wallmark, Zachary
Date: 10/13/2017
Location: SMU Psychology Department Lecture Series


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