Ataman Kinis is a Cypriot composer, guitarist, and vocalist, currently pursuing his PhD in music composition at the University of Surrey supervised by Milton Mermikides. Coming from a multi-cultural environment, he was exposed to a wide range of music traditions and music educations from a very young age, which shaped and evolved his musical background. His musical language demonstrates influences from Cypriot and Turkish makam music, including experimentation on different tuning systems, microtonality, musical expression and improvisation. In 2021, his film score was awarded as the winner of Montréal International Film Scoring Competition. He is currently working on his PhD research titled as ‘Decoration as Material’ which involves the adaptation and modelling of Turkish makam ornamentation to electronic music composition.
I was always curious about how expression works in music and what makes an improvisation or a composition ‘emotional’, or ‘soulful’. I am not sure if it is about my familiarity with makam music, but I believe that Turkish makam is a treasure of expressive nuances, emotional gestures, and decorative elements. There is even a metaphor in Turkish language that an expressive or emotional performance can ‘rip off your chest’. The more I improved myself in makam music, the more I became curious about its mechanisms, which lead me to think of the ways of integrating these untouched gestures into my compositional process.
My research is suited in the field of practice-based research which will be a combination of theoretical/analytical research and practical applications. Evolving around topics such as ornamentation and expressive elements of improvisation in makam, I am aiming to seek ways of redeploying these mostly hidden gestures into my composition process. My goal is to challenge the perspective of compositional and performative habits by shifting focus to expressivity as source material. By this approach, I am aiming to generate new analysis methods and electronic composition techniques that may contribute to both Turkish makam analysis and contemporary composition medium.
Theoretical part of my research includes audio analysis of ornamentations used on various Turkish instruments such as oud and kemençe (string instrument). Dealing with tuning and microtonality, I aim to create new ways of understanding and notating ornamentations which may contribute to the understanding and conceptualisation of Turkish makam theory.
Practical part of my project deals with the actual adaptation of these expressive ornamentations into my compositions. Possible compositional applications of my findings on both electronic music and acoustic instruments will be assessed in this section. This process include experimentation on various technological techniques, new notation systems and experimentation on electric fretless guitar.