Department or Program



In looking at the responsibilities of the performer of Western Classical music, we must consider music, like many art forms, as a mode of communication. Whether the composer’s writing depicts a tangible idea or narrative or expresses less definable emotions, the performer coming to the music grapples with the responsibility of representing that extra-musical content in performance, how those ideas should influence performance style, and what kinds of freedoms the performer has with the written notes on the page. My thesis takes two parts: the first is a performance with a carefully selected program of flute repertoire ranging from pieces as programmatic as Debussy’s Prelude to “The Afternoon of a Faun”, to J. S. Bach’s Sonata in E-flat, which presents no programmatic context. I explore these ideas in my written thesis, by isolating three works from my program that represent the variety of programmatic influence found in compositions. In each work I examine the motives of the composer and extra-musical ideas he contemplated while writing. I follow this with in-depth interviews with flute performers and teachers knowledgeable in each respective style of music, discovering their views of extra-musical influences and the weight those carry in performance. Engaging published accounts of the motives and contexts of a musical composition with the opinions of musicians performing and teaching the music today, this thesis explores how extra-musical ideas surrounding a piece are physically manifested and sheds light on the elusive effect that preparation has on a final performance.

Level of Access

Open Access

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2012

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

2 pdf files: thesis and recital program

10 mp3

Open Access

Available to all.