Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Julie Hobbs

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott Wright


Claude Debussy's Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune [Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun] opens with an unaccompanied flute solo that famously tests breath control, tone production, and capacity for musical expression. All aspiring flutists must master this solo, because it is frequently requested on orchestral and collegiate auditions. To aid flutists in their preparation, many notable pedagogues and performers have provided written and verbal commentary with suggestions for crafting a successful performance; however, it is unclear whether or not actual performances reflect these teachings. In other words, do the pedagogues practice what they preach? This study uses audio analysis to objectively analyze quantifiable aspects of ninety years of recordings of Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune and compares the results to current pedagogy. This study’s findings fall into four categories: (1) breath placement, (2) tempo and rubato, (3) vibrato, and (4) general expression. Because of the influence and historical significance of American flutist William Kincaid, a giant of twentieth-century performance and pedagogy, special consideration is given to specific recordings and teaching of Kincaid. The analysis that follows demonstrates disparity between performance practice and pedagogy and will allow flute students and teachers to make better-informed decisions interpreting Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)