Florian Walch

Florian Walch
Cohort Year: 2016
Advisor(s): Seth Brodsky
Research Interests: history and analysis of popular music; genre; media and sound studies; musicology of record production; theories of tonality; sonata theory and the classical style; critical theory; psychoanalysis
Education: BA, University of Vienna, 2014; MA, University of Vienna, 2016


I am a (music) theorist interested in history. My research focuses on the timeliness of sound (the ways it can be sensed, recorded, and repeated), on the tactics that theory uses to insulate itself from this timeliness, and on how these tactics enclose and disclose timeliness. Currently, my research focuses on (sub-)genre as a vernacular theory of music—and as a means of managing the historical dependencies that are inimical to any theory.

In my dissertation, titled The Rescue of Inconvenience: Extreme Metal, Sub-Generic Fragmentation, and the Digital Afterlife, I propose that extreme metal’s conflicted attachment to technology makes it an exemplary case for understanding how genre, as a form of repetition, is marked by the memory of past media. While extreme metal’s core values developed in independent analog networks, its musicians soon pushed past the limits of bodies, acoustics, and recording equipment, thus inaugurating an uneasy reliance on digital prostheses. I argue that extreme metal’s fragmentation into myriad sub-genres was a means of managing this analog-digital transition: its attempts to repeat and stabilize extreme metal’s sound and meaning by technological means failed—repeatedly. While sociological approaches deflate investment in granular generic labels as a practice of self-interested distinction, I examine these discourses as a form of vernacular analysis and as a means of managing historical change. I argue that (sub-)genre, as the promise of repeatable aesthetic experience, requires technologies that make such repetition (seem) possible. But when these technologies disappear, something is lost—in the case of metal, the resistances it needed to enjoy itself as “extreme.” Extreme metal’s investment in sub-generic categorization is a compromise formation: it seeks to recover some of the resistances that the musical act once had to overcome.

I also maintain a research focus in the classical style and tonal analysis. I am interested in how familiar repertoires challenge canonic technologies of analysis: where the tool becomes an end in itself, and its demands render empirical instances of its supposed model cases mysterious. At the University of Chicago, my research has been generously supported by a Neubauer Family Presidential Fellowship (2016-2022) and a Mellon Humanities Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2022-2023).

Teaching Experience


Music Theory Fundamentals (Spring 2021)

Aural Skills/Keyboard Lab Leader (Course Assistant)

Harmony and Voice-Leading (Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020)

Course Assistant

Music In Western Civilization II (Winter 2022)
Eurovision Song Contest (Spring 2019)
Introduction to Western Art Music (Fall 2018)


Further teaching experience at the University of Vienna and the South Side Suzuki Cooperative.