Ecologies of Resonance in Christian Musicking

Ecologies of Resonance in Christian Musicking

Ecologies of Resonance in Christian Musicking explores a diverse range of Christian musical activity through the conceptual lens of resonance, a concept rooted in the physical, vibrational and sonic realm that carries with it an expansive ability to simultaneously describe personal, social and spiritual realities. Mark Porter proposes that attention to patterns of back-and-forth interaction that exist in and alongside sonic activity can help us to understand the dynamics of religious musicking in new ways and, at the same time, can provide a means for bringing diverse traditions into conversation. The book focuses on questions arising out of human experience in the moment of worship. What happens if we take the entry point of human beings who experience varying patterns of sonic interaction with the world around them as a focus for exploration? What different ecologies of interaction can we trace? What kinds of patterns can we trace through different Christian worshipping environments? How do these operate across multiple dimensions of experience?

Chapters covering ascetic sounding, noisy congregations and internet livestreaming, among others, serve to highlight the diverse ecologies of resonance that surround Christian musicking, suggesting the potential to develop new perspectives on devotional musical activity which primarily focus not on compositions or theological ideals but on changing patterns of interaction across multiple dimensions between individuals, spaces, communities and God.

Mark Porter's book explores the dynamics of interaction and sound across a dizzying variety of Christian devotional settings and moments. Porter's core idea of ‘resonance,’ rather than offering simple answers, opens up new questions for us. Porter helps us ask why and how patterned sound is present across varieties of religious devotion, and also what qualities of devotion particular patterns of sound and interaction allow for.

—Jonathan Dueck, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, Canadian Mennonite University (Winnipeg, Canada)

Mark Porter's evocative, wide-ranging, and theoretically significant work presents an invaluable frame for understanding the complex interconnections between sound, space, and social life in the context of Christian music-making. This book establishes Porter--already a pioneer in congregational music studies--as a leading authority on music and contemporary religion.

—Monique M. Ingalls, Associate Professor of Music, Baylor University and author of Singing the Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Forms Evangelical Community

This is a pathbreaking book that points the way to a totally new understanding of the role of music in religious experience.

—Hartmut Rosa, Professor of Sociology and Social Theory at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany

Not just musicology, not just ethnography, not just anthropology, but a proper thick description of what it's like to be in worship, experience it, and comprehend it.

—Martyn Percy, The Dean, Christ Church, Oxford

This book confirms Mark Porter’s place as a leading thinker and theorist in the field of congregational music ... [His] work deserves to be taken seriously not only by students of congregational music, but also more widely by musicologists and scholars of the study of religion; if they do so, they will find much here that may persuade them to afford more attention to the vibrant, diverse and ever-changing world of congregational music than has previously been the case.

—Martin Clarke in Reading Religion


This set of studies on Christian musical encounters deserves to be received as a more broadly enticing and provocative volume than its title may at first convey ... what he terms 'ecologies of resonance' ... [wrestles] the reader out of various established avenues of musical-theological study and into the new territory Porter wishes to chart. And it is very promising territory ... by its later chapters he demonstrates a highly perceptive engagement with quite complex musical and liturgical phenomena ... [T]he issues and opportunities he explores around live-streamed worship will no doubt have developed an aptness over the previous months for many readers; his work here is very much worth attention.

—James Crockford in Theology


This is an important book in looking at church music in its context, rather than a simply musical aesthetic appraisal ... The book raises many important questions, especially for the digital world. I am particularly interested in how it might encourage improvisation in liturgy and shared leadership ... it [presents] useful analytical tools for people studying music in worship and raises important questions about the direction digital religion may take and its relation with the developing secular world.

—June Boyce-Tillman in Practical Theology


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