Daniel Walden

Daniel Walden

Junior Research Fellow in Music, The Queen's College (Oxford)


Music theory and analysis (late 18th-20th centuries); global history (focusing on Europe, US, South and East Asia); Science, Technology, and Society studies; post- and decolonial studies; critical performance practice. Secondary interests in ancient and early modern Italian music theory.


Daniel’s research and scholarship focuses primarily on the global history of music theory during the nineteenth century, drawing together analysis, archival studies, and ethnographic fieldwork.  Daniel works with European, Hindustani, and Japanese sources in multiple languages, and draws on his own performance practice in asking how the foundational theories of musical analysis, perception, and pedagogy entangled with the operations of colonial modernity.

Daniel’s main focus is a book project (tentatively) entitled “The Emperor’s New Keyboards: Or, The Global Politics of Tuning and Temperament.”  This examines the forces that compelled 19th -century European music theory, musical science, and comparative musicology to conform their approaches to the discrete pitch collections of standard and just-intonation keyboards, and connect their projects to globalizing enterprises focused on rationalizing, standardizing, and improving musical cultures from around the world.

Meanwhile he is pursuing three interconnected projects: 1) a translation with commentary of analytical essays and short stories by Johanna Kinkel (1810-1851); 2) an examination of how colonial epistemologies shaped conceptual models of “pitch space,” drawing on decolonial and antiracist critique; and 3) a project in the digital humanities, focused on recreating the experimental keyboards he studies in his book project with synthesizers, and investigating their applications in music theory pedagogy.

Before arriving at University of Oxford, Daniel completed a double degree at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Latin and Piano Performance.  He continued to the University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar for his MPhil in Music Studies, and to Harvard University as a Presidential Scholar for PhD in Music. Daniel is also a concert pianist, specializing in contemporary music and historical performance practice with the support of a Leonore Annenberg Fellowship for the Performing and Visual Arts.  More information on his academic publications and performance record can be found here: www.danielwaldenpiano.com