A lab for art-music performance research

Tekhnee is a private R&D lab housed in A Grid, Aalto University’s innovation center in Finland. Coordinating research in performance traditions, tonal theory, and movement analysis with specialized courses and educational fieldwork, we investigate new practices that integrate advanced music analysis into the pedagogies of performance. In tandem, we are developing an ecosystem of unobtrusive sensor technologies that are artistically relevant to classical musicianship.

Research Areas



Schenkerian hearing & performance

Research on performance pedagogies fundamentally informed by Heinrich Schenker’s interpretive practice and pedagogic thoroughbass traditions (e.g. partimento) in pursuit of musical aptitudes well above “competence” or “literacy”: richly complex hearing, probing score-reading faculties, a persuasive interpretive imagination, and matching psychomotor reflexes.

Sensor-based practice aids for instrumentalists

Development of an ecosystem of unobtrusive sensor-based devices for unsupervised practice, distance education, and psychomotor precision in artistry-oriented performance training. (Patents are pending.)

Piano playability modeling and assessment

An interdisciplinary research & development program aiming at a theoretical framework, relevant data capture technology, and piano-pedagogic guidelines for the granular adjustment of difficulty levels during training.


Chat with TekhneeBot, our interactive decision engine, to discover training programs relevant to your background.


Courses & Fieldwork


Piano Lessons

Piano Training on Schenkerian Principles

An investigative program of musically and ergonomically granular piano training, thoroughly informed by Heinrich Schenker’s ideas on structure, interpretation, and performance. For beginning & intermediate students on a pre-professional track. Sensors are used frequently.

Details

Advanced Music Theory Course

Schenkerian Analysis on the Instrument

A comprehensive professional-development program in Schenkerian analysis, exploring Cognitive Load Theory instructional guidelines and engaging the musical instrument as a means for generating, evaluating, and communicating analytical ideas. Sensors are used rarely.

Details

Performance Coaching

Schenkerian Performance Preparation

The program assists performers in preparing for specific engagements—competitions, auditions, examinations, concerts—by casting Schenkerian light on their expressive and technical intuitions, and by assimilating advanced analytical insight into stage-projected musicianship.

Details

Piano Training on Schenkerian Principles
Description A research-derived program of  piano training  based on  Heinrich Schenker’s ideas on analysis, interpretation, and performance . The course supplements concert repertoire and standard pedagogic scores with original material of Schenkerian origin. Our goal is to  build on , not disrupt, established curricula of piano training.
Learning goals In addition to  revealing the individuality of each single tone  in the music, Schenkerian reasoning is used to  prevent or overcome “technical” pianistic obstacles by intrinsically musical means , and specifically through an awareness of the work’s tonal structure. Students cultivate the ability to intuitively recognize the  complex musical work  as a  hierarchy of simple linear structures . Because of their expressive interaction, and often their correspondence to specific psychomotor responses, these structures provide us with a  systematic framework  for  highly creative work on expression and technique (tone production) . Beyond its plausibly hypothesized benefits for  memorization , this approach allows granular control over both  musical and pianistic complexity in close coordination . In every other way the program shares the goals of most professionally-oriented programs of training in piano performance, among them the pursuit of a broad expressive range, a healthy desire to perform under the public gaze, resilience, and efficient work habits.
Our research goals The program serves a double function: first, as the field-research platform of an extensive project on Heinrich Schenker’s reduction and diminution as primary tools for instrument teaching practice; second, as a testing environment for sensor-enhanced pedagogies, including the collection of sensor data and usability feedback from our participants.
Sensor use Frequent (upon the participant’s approval).
Eligibility The program is intended for  beginning and intermediate  students of piano,  instrument teachers  interested in new approaches, as well as other  “practitioners”  of musical analysis. Schenkerian ideas are pervasive but assimilated inconspicuously, without recourse to terminology or manifest theoretical rigor.
Duration Sessions typically take place once or twice a week. Their duration depends mainly on the participant’s age.
Fees See our FAQ.
Schenkerian Analysis on the Instrument
Description A comprehensive  course in Schenkerian analysis  with three distinct features:

  • in contrast to traditional blackboard-centric settings,  the student’s primary musical instrument  is engaged as a means for generating, evaluating, and communicating analytical ideas;
  • instruction is offered  individually  or in groups of  no more than four  participants;
  • textbook material is supplemented with original  exercises  applying Cognitive Load Theory principles.

The syllabus otherwise builds on selected texts by Schenker himself as well as core secondary literature in the field.

Learning goals The program adheres to the outlines of a university-level Schenker sequence, but is  intended to address obstacles that we consider responsible for the resistance of many performers to music analysis :

  • the impression that analysis is a time-consuming writing-intensive activity, or a distraction from the performer’s physical engagement with the musical instrument in the moment;
  • the absence of considerations of sound from conventional Schenker training, even though the technique was originally intended, at least in part, as a theory of performance.

The learning goals are otherwise  similar to those of university-level Schenkerian training : long-range harmonic-contrapuntal hearing, “outlining” skills (production and performance of musical “summaries”); grounding in the theoretical and aesthetic principles; and familiarity with key works of the primary and secondary literature.

Our research goals The program serves as a generator of instructional material for publication and as a data source on the comparative cognitive loads of different analytical representations.
Sensor use On rare occasions (upon the participant’s approval).
Eligibility  Instrument pedagogues ,  performing musicians  and  conservatory students ,  musicologists ,  music critics ,  listeners  with advanced musical training. Prior study of harmony (in four-parts) is essential. Familiarity with modal or tonal counterpoint in two parts would be helpful but is not a prerequisite.
Duration One or two cycles of 8–12 weekly meetings. Each meeting typically lasts 60–90 minutes, depending on the student’s background and the number of participants.
Fees See our FAQ.
Schenkerian Performance Preparation
Description The program assists performers prepare for specific engagements— competitions, auditions, examinations, concerts —by casting music-analytical light on their expressive and technical intuitions, and by helping them  assimilate analytical insight into stage-projected musicianship .The approach is fundamentally  Schenkerian  but most terminology and the inner workings of tonal theory are typically hidden from view. During these workshop-like sessions we alternate between hearings that are  microscopic  (the local dramatic detail) or  macroscopic  (the entire work as a synoptic “landscape” view), experimenting with  spontaneously scribbled analytical graphs  (Bilder) and a wide  range of realizations  in sound. We are in search of large-scale motives, long-range lines, multi-level designs, and other dramatic structures and revelatory events that are as salient to a convincing performance as they are  concealed  from ordinary score-reading or hearing.
Learning goals Schenkerian training recasts  harmonic hearing as a fundamentally horizontal phenomenon , and accordingly the program cultivates such qualities as  long-range continuity, finely nuanced tonal closures (cadences, lines, transitions between formal units), a subtle and variegated hearing of meter and rhythm, and especially the mastery of tonal tension (e.g. eradicating unintended “dead spots.”) . It is important to note that this is a repertoire-driven, not theory-driven program, which dives into specific works ahead of their public performance. While it encourages an analytical approach to performance preparation in general, it does not serve as a comprehensive syllabus in Schenkerian technique.
Our research goals We document performers’ interpretive and psychomotor responses to analytical representations in different modalities (visual, aural, verbal), study the potential functions of such representations in studio training, compare them according to Cognitive Load Theory criteria, and index them for reference in current and planned projects.
Sensor use During the sessions (upon the participant’s approval) we may occasionally test sensor-enhanced pedagogies and solicit device usability feedback.
Eligibility  Instrumental pedagogues ,  advanced pianists ,  conservatory students ,  orchestral musicians ,  conductors ,  instrumentalists . Prior study of harmony (four-part writing) is a prerequisite.
Duration As agreed on a case-by-case basis, depending on study goals, any forthcoming performance commitments, and repertoire.
Fees See our FAQ.
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Some training programs are available online. Locations vary otherwise. For inquiries, please book an appointment.


FAQs


  • Which programs am I eligible for?
  • What is the typical musical background of participants?
  • Do you use sensors in all your programs? Can I use them while attending a course?
  • How many participants can you accommodate per program?
  • Where do you operate? Can I participate in your programs remotely?
  • Are your programs available free of charge? Do you offer scholarships?
  • What fees apply?
  • How are you financed?
  • What are your guiding principles?
  • Are you hiring or seeking partners?
  • Is your scholarship open? What is your intellectual property policy?
  • Music scholarship aside, what technologies and toolchains do you employ?
  • Why Finland?
Which programs am I eligible for?

Since our programs serve simultaneously as research platforms, we seek participants whose musical background is aligned with our current research needs, to the mutual benefit of everyone involved. Successful match-making is therefore essential to the integrity of our research and teaching. We invite you to chat with TekhneeBot, our decision engine, who will consider your individual background and suggest relevant projects. At the end of the process you’ll be provided with a list of recommendations and the option to arrange a follow-up discussion with us.

What is the typical musical background of participants?
While our programs and development projects are generally not designed for hobbyists, we do seek participants across the spectrum of formative stages in professional-track training, from early childhood to full-time musicians. For instance, we are keen on working with piano, voice, and instrument teachers; beginning pupils and intermediate students pursuing enrollment in specialized music schools; pre-college or college students of music theory; conservatory-trained but “lapsed” instrumentalists; competition- or audition-bound performers; and other professionally-minded learners.
Do you use sensors in all your programs? Can I use them while attending a course?

In principle, yes; in practice, sensor usage is more frequent in the performance-intensive programs. Most participants in such programs will be invited to wear one or more coin-sized sensors at least once, and possibly on a regular basis. Currently, the sensors are used for calibration and reference dataset development. Use of sensors requires your acceptance of a standard confidentiality (“non-disclosure”) agreement and your assurance that any information on devices or associated pedagogic practices to which you have been privy will remain confidential.

How many participants can you accommodate per program?

The number is limited and depends on the current stage of our research work, as well as our current resources, the involvement of collaborators, and the current number of active participants, among other factors.

Where do you operate? Can I participate in your programs remotely?
We are based in A Grid, Aalto University’s innovation hub, in Espoo, Finland. In addition to all the advantages of the academic campus infrastructure, this location provides proximity to the Helsinki metro system, meeting room and teleconferencing facilities, and maker’s spaces. We are also operating in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, as well as Tallinn, actively seeking partners in these cities. Participation in several of our programs is possible from anywhere in the world via synchronous conferencing technologies and related tools (e.g. Wacom tablets), which we are typically able to lend to you on a long-term basis. Our bot will factor-in your location prior to determining your program eligibility.
Are your programs available free of charge? Do you offer scholarships?

Tuition fees are a significant income stream for the lab, and most places are not free. That said, we are able to offer free study opportunities on occasion, typically in the following cases:

  • Students whose background is uncommon and/or exceptionally essential to our work.
  • Programs in earliest stages of development.
  • Participants affiliated with institutional partners (orchestras, schools, etc.).
Efforts are under way to reduce our reliance on fees. Subscribe to our email list and follow us on Twitter to receive any relevant announcements.
What fees apply?

Please contact us, either directly or after chatting with TekhneeBot, for information on fees.

How are you financed?
We are funded by a combination of investment, grants, and tuition fees. Earnest efforts are ongoing to minimize our dependence on tuition fees by pursuing partnerships with academia and other arts organizations. While not yet consistently possible, we strive to adhere to the Sustainability principle of “Open Scholarship Infrastructures” (Bilder, Geoffrey, Jennifer Lin, and Cameron Neylon. 2015. ‘Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures-V1.’).

What are your guiding principles?

The academic integrity of our research and the artistic relevance of our practices and technologies.

Are you hiring or seeking partners?
While we do not advertise a position at present, we welcome collaboration proposals or employment applications from individuals with up-to-date expertise in a range of areas, such as:
  • Schenker, partimento, thoroughbass.
  • Piano pedagogy (especially if coupled with advanced music-theoretical training).
  • Music theory with fluency in the Russian- and/or Chinese language.
  • Inertial motion sensor data analysis, the Julia programming language, Pd, Mokka, etc.
  • Arduino/Raspberry Pi coding and basic circuit design.
  • MusicXML, MEI, music21.
  • Piezoelectric materials and e-textiles.

We are particularly keen on working with advanced students and junior researchers.

Is your scholarship open? What is your intellectual property policy?

Most of the resulting research is intended to be released in the public domain via academic and academic press channels. Until that happens we generally request your confidentiality. Some of our work is also patent-pending. In special cases, Tekhnee may request a non-disclosure agreement with you prior to a collaboration.

Music scholarship aside, what technologies and toolchains do you employ?

A representative list includes: Swift, Julia, Pd, RStudio, OSC, music21, and the mbientLab platform, among other tools and technologies.

Why Finland?

More reasons than would fit in this space: former affiliation of Tekhnee staff with the Sibelius Academy, a vibrant art-music scene, a penchant for innovation in education, proximity to Russia and other countries with an outstanding pianistic tradition, the open entrepreneurial culture and infrastructures, and much more.

Contact


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Tekhnee


Dr. Yannis Rammos, Founder
A Grid–Aalto Univ. Innovation Hub
Otakaari 5 I 429
02150 Espoo
Finland

info @ tekhn.ee
EU VAT# FI28640114


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