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About City

Mark Porter

Department of Music

E: me@markporter.co.uk

Title of thesis: That's not my music: experiences of Contemporary Worship Music in relation to extra-ecclesiastical musical attachments

Supervisors: Laudan Nooshin

Higher education background

  • MMus (Music) King's College, London
  • BA (Music) University College, Oxford

Overview and research interests

Contemporary Worship Music arose in the late 20th Century out of a desire to form connections between church music and popular culture. Subsequent evolution has meant that this particular form of soft rock now dominates large portions of the evangelical church landscape. Simulaneously, individuals have been able to access an increasingly diverse range of musical genres and artists with which they form a broad range of attachments. On the basis of interviews conducted in 2012 I investigate the ways in which individuals relate their experiences of music within St Aldates Church, Oxford to their diverse musical lives outside of a church context and how they navigate the movement between different musical environments.

This project engages a number of theoretical concerns. In asking how individuals inhabit different musical worlds I interrogate the nature of their identification with music. I draw attention to the non-uniform and non-unified nature of collective musical experience, questioning the assumption that simultaneous musical experience is necessarily shared musical experience.

Also present are questions of musical style, significance and value; how do individuals understand and apply these categories and how do they function within the shared ongoing life of a musical community. By bringing the musical style of the congregation into dialogue with other musical styles, I highlight the relational and interactive nature of these categories and by focusing on the ongoing life within an established congregation I ask about their communal contestation and regulation.

Research interests

  • Taste
  • Style
  • Identity
  • Church
  • Ethics
  • Contemporary Worship Music
  • Diversity
  • Cosmopolitanism.


  • 2014 'The Developing Field of Christian Congregational Music Studies' Article in: Ecclesial Practices 1.2, pp. 149-166.
  • 2013 'Moving between musical worlds: worship music, significance and ethics in the lives of contemporary worshippers'. Book chapter in Christian Congregational Music: Performance, Identity and Experience edited by Monique Ingalls, Tom Wagner and Carolyn Landau. London: Ashgate.
  • 2013 'Contemporary worship music: different perspectives'. Article in the Church Music Quarterly - magazine of the Royal School of Church Music.


Conference organisation 2011, 2013 and 2015:
Christian congregational music: local and global perspectives (Cuddesdon)

Research presentations:

  • 2014 'Congregational music and the "new cosmopolitanism"' at the conference of the International Society for Media, Religion and Culture
  • 2014 'Marginal musical spaces at St Aldates, Oxford' at the annual conference of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology
  • 2014 'Contemporary Worship Music: private experience and public discourse' at joint BFE/RMA study day on music and the public sphere
  • 2013 Invited presentation for church music leaders at Offener Abend, Stuttgart 2013 Invited presentation at Georg-August Universität, Göttingen
  • 2013 Invited presentation at Oxford University's Graduate Christian Forum.

2012, 2013 & 2014 Research presentations at City University London:

  • 2013 Roundtable at O for a thousand tongues: a conference on joined up worship (Notting Hill)
  • 2012 'Moving into praise: taste and identity in the lives of contemporary worshippers' at British Forum for Ethnomusicology graduate conference
  • 2011 'The sacramental function of congregational music in worship' at Christian congregational music: local and global perspectives.