A lab for art-music performance research

Tekhnee is a private R&D lab housed in A Grid, Aalto University’s innovation center in Espoo, Finland. Coordinating research in performance, tonal analysis, sensor technologies, and symbolic music encoding with educational fieldwork, we investigate new practices that integrate advanced music-analytical reasoning 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.


Fieldwork & Training Programs


Piano Training on Schenkerian Principles

A highly granular program of classical piano performance training, thoroughly informed by Heinrich Schenker’s ideas on structure, interpretation, and performance. Sensors are used frequently.

Details

Schenkerian Analysis on the Instrument

A comprehensive professional-development program in Schenkerian analysis involving sound production at the participant’s musical instrument and applying instructional principles of Cognitive Load Theory. Sensors are used rarely.

Details

Schenkerian Performance Preparation

In-depth Schenkerian interpretation and performance preparation of any given tonal repertoire, addressing problems of detail and context, dramatic trajectory, intonation, and coherence. Sensors are used occasionally.

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 material—the latter mainly of Russian origin—with original material of Schenkerian origin. Our intention is to build on, not disrupt, standard curricula of piano training.
Learning goals Schenkerian reasoning is used to overcome pianistic obstacles typically thought “technical” by intrinsically musical means, and specifically through awareness of the work’s multi-level structure. Students acquire an intuitive grasp of the musical work as a highly organized network of elementary structures with interactive expressive potential, and hone flexible psychomotor responses to this content for tone production. Coordinating musical and pianistic complexity through modular musical entities, the approach enables granular and flexible control over the learning curve. In every other way the program shares the goals of most professionally-oriented programs of training in piano performance, among them a personal attachment to the pianist’s craft, a healthy desire to perform under the public gaze, resilience, and efficient work habits.
Our research goals The program serves as the field-research platform of a parallel research project exploring Heinrich Schenker’s concepts of reduction and diminution as primary tools for pedagogic work. The sessions also provide opportunities for exploring sensor-enhanced pedagogies, collecting sensor data, and soliciting usability feedback from our participants.
Sensor use Frequent (upon the participant’s approval).
Participants The program is intended for beginning and intermediate students of piano. (Instrumental teachers, students of other instruments, and music theorists, for instance, will likely find our other two programs more relevant.) Schenkerian ideas are pervasive but assimilated inconspicuously, without 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:

  • engagement of the student’s primary musical instrument (not necessarily the piano) as a means for generating, evaluating, and communicating analytical ideas;
  • instruction individually or in groups of 2–4 participants;
  • exercises based on Cognitive Load Theory principles (original pre-publication material).

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

Learning goals The program generally adheres to the sequence of a university-level two-semester sequence in Schenkerian analysis but, borrowing techniques from Cognitive Load Theory, is designed to respond to two particular challenges that we consider responsible for the resistance of many performers to music analysis:

  • the demands of Schenkerian practice in sheer time, often perceived as a distraction from the performer’s bodily engagement with the musical instrument;
  • the absence of considerations of sound from conventional (if not from historically authentic) Schenker training.

The learning goals are otherwise similar to those of university-level Schenkerian training: long-range harmonic-contrapuntal hearing, practical “outlining” skills (production 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).
Participants 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 Performance preparation integrated with in-depth analytical examination of tonal repertoire proposed by the participant. The approach is fundamentally Schenkerian but the degree to which terminology or the theory itself are exposed depends on the student’s background and interests. During the session we alternate between microscopic (the local dramatic detail) and macroscopic (the entire work as a synoptic “landscape” view), experimenting with different realizations of the work in sound, and drawing spontaneous analytical sketches (Bilder) in search of large-scale motives, long lines, multi-level designs, and other dramatic structures and events that are as salient to a convincing performance as they are concealed from ordinary score-reading or hearing.
Learning goals The program is repertoire-driven, delving into the given repertoire ahead of a public performance in the broad sense (recitals, exams, auditions, recording). While some of the skills acquired are transferrable to any other tonal repertoire, the program is not a comprehensive seminar in analysis but rather an analysis-informed performance workshop. Schenkerian training recasts harmony 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), meaningful coloristic detail, and especially the avoidance of unintended “dead spots.”
Our research goals We document performers’ responses to analytical representations in different modalities (visual, aural, verbal), study their potential function 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.
Participants Instrumental pedagogues, advanded 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.
Back to list

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


FAQs


  • Which teaching programs and/or field tests am I eligible for?
  • For whom are your programs most suitable?
  • Do you use sensors in all your programs? Can I use them in my own practice?
  • 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?
  • What tuition 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 teaching programs and/or field tests 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.

For whom are your programs most suitable?
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. Some of our target groups are: professionally trained but “lapsed” instrumentalists; instrumental teachers (especially pre-college piano teachers); orchestral musicians; young pupils and students studying at, or pursuing enrollment in, specialized music schools; postgraduate music students of music theory; competition- or audition-bound performers; and other professionally-oriented learners. The demands of our programs are significant but in line with levels appropriate to professional-track music education in each age group.
Do you use sensors in all your programs? Can I use them in my own practice?

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?
Tuition fees are a significant income stream for the lab, and most places are not free. That said, opportunities for free-of-charge studies routinely become available depending on current research needs and alternative funding streams. Most typically such opportunities are available via institutional partners (orchestras, schools, etc.). Efforts are under way to secure sponsorships for underprivileged participants. Subscribe to our email list and follow us on Twitter to receive any relevant announcements.
What tuition 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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