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. With original artistic-training programs and pedagogic fieldwork as our research platform, we pursue a roadmap for integrating performance, tonal theory, and movement analysis. In tandem, we are developing an ecosystem of sensor-based practice aids for classical instrumentalists.

Our Research Areas



Schenkerian hearing & performance

Research on performance pedagogies informed by Heinrich Schenker’s interpretive practice in pursuit of musical aptitudes above ordinary “literacy”: insightful hearing, expert score-reading, a vivid interpretive imagination, and versatile 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.


Open Courses & Fieldwork


Intensive Piano Lessons

Piano Training on Schenkerian Principles

An investigative program of musically and ergonomically granular piano lessons, 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
Professional Development Workshop

Schenkerian Analysis on the Instrument

How does a tonal masterwork actually “work”? A professional-development program in Schenkerian analysis for instrument teachers, students of performance, musicologists, and music professionals in search of new hearings and vocabularies. Sensors are used rarely.

Details
Advanced Repertoire Study

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
For whom 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.
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.
Locations Piano lessons are available in Helsinki/Espoo, Saint Petersburg, Tallinn, and Moscow.
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).
Duration Sessions typically take place once or twice a week. Their duration depends on the participant’s age.
Fees See our FAQ.
Schenkerian Analysis on the Instrument
For whom  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.
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.

Locations Training sessions take place online with students from most time-zones, or onsite in Helsinki/Espoo, Saint Petersburg, and Moscow. We are typically able to provide online students with a Wacom tablet—our tool of choice—on long-term loan.
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).
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
For whom  Instrument pedagogues ,  advanced pianists ,  conservatory students ,  orchestral musicians ,  conductors ,  instrumentalists . Prior study of harmony (four-part writing) is a prerequisite.
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.
Locations Sessions take place in Helsinki/Espoo, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Tallinn. Depending on the student’s technical infrastructure and the stage of their preparation, we may be able to arrange online sessions, as well.
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.
Duration As agreed on a case-by-case basis, depending on study goals, any forthcoming performance commitments, and repertoire.
Fees See our FAQ.
Back to list

Some training programs are available online. Locations vary otherwise. For inquiries, please book an appointment.


FAQs


  • Can I participate online? Where do you operate?
  • Which programs are suitable for me?
  • What is the typical musical background of participants?
  • Do you use sensors in all your programs?
  • How many participants can you accommodate per program?
  • 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?
Can I participate online? Where do you operate?
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, 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 tools (e.g. Wacom tablets), which typically provide to participants on long-term loan. Our bot will factor-in your location prior to determining your program eligibility.
Which programs are suitable for me?

Our training programs serve simultaneously as research platforms to the benefit of everyone involved, so we seek participants whose musical background is aligned with our current research needs. We invite you to run TekhneeBot, our decision engine, which will consider your individual background and suggest relevant projects. At the end of the process you’ll be provided with 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 teachers of piano, voice, and orchestra instruments; beginning pupils and intermediate students pursuing enrollment in 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?

Sensor usage is more frequent in the performance-intensive programs. Most participants will be invited to wear one or more coin-sized sensors on a regular basis. In relevant cases we request acceptance of a standard “non-disclosure agreement,” as a token of understanding that any information on the devices or associated pedagogic materials, to which you’ll be privy, will remain confidential. Participants are given access to all data collected from their playing.

How many participants can you accommodate per program?

The number is limited and depends on current resources, the possible involvement of collaborators, and the number of active participants, among other factors.

Are your programs available free of charge? Do you offer scholarships?
Tuition fees are a significant income stream for the lab, and the majority of places are not free. However, we are occasionally able to offer free study opportunities, typically in the following cases:
  • Students whose individual background is 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 running 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. As much as 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 music analysis 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 graduate students and junior researchers in any of the above areas.

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 open scholarship channels. Until that happens we count on 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?

Among others: Swift, Julia, Pd, RStudio, OSC, music21, and the mbientLab platform.

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 its outstanding performance 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
VAT# FI28640114


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