Music Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 2
Music Critical Reading
Questions 1–7 are based on the following passage.
The following passage discusses the unique musical traditions that developed along the Rio Grand in colonial New Mexico.
From 1598 to 1821, the area along the Rio Grand that is now the state of New Mexico formed the northernmost border of the Spanish colonies in the New World. The colonists lived on a geographic frontier surrounded by deserts and mountains. This remote colony with its harsh climate was far removed from the cultural centers of the Spanish Empire in the New World, and music was a necessary part of social life. The isolated nature of the region and needs of the community gave rise to a unique, rich musical tradition that included colorful ballads, popular dances, and some of the most extraordinary ceremonial music in the Hispanic world.
The popular music along the Rio Grand, especially the heroic and romantic ballads, reflected the stark and rough nature of the region. Unlike the refined music found in Mexico, the music of the Rio Grand had a rough-cut "frontier" quality. The music also reflected the mixing of cultures that characterized the border colony. The close military and cultural ties between the Spanish and the native Pueblos of the region led to a uniquely New Mexican fusion of traditions. Much of the music borrowed from both European and native cultures. This mixing of traditions was especially evident in the dances.
The bailes, or village dances—instrumental music played on violin and guitar—were a lively focus of frontier life. Some bailes were derived from traditional European waltzes, but then adapted to the singular style of the region. The bailes had an unusual melodic structure and the players had unique methods of bowing and tuning their instruments. Other bailes, such as indita (little Indian girl) and vaquero (cowboy), were only found in New Mexico. The rhythms and melodies of the indita had definite Puebloan influences. Its themes, which ranged from love to tragedy, almost always featured dramatic interactions between Spanish and Native Americans. Similarly, the Matachines dance drama was an allegorical representation of the meeting of European and Native American cultures. Its European melodies, played on violin and guitar, were coupled with the use of insistent repetition, which came from the Native American tradition.
In addition to the bailes, waltzes—the Waltz of the Days and the Waltz of the Immanuels—were also performed to celebrate New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Groups of revelers went singing from house to house throughout the night to bring in the New Year. In New Mexico, January 1 is the Feast of Immanuel so the singers visited the houses of people named Manuel or Manuela. Many songs were sung on these visits but especially popular were the coplas, or improvised couplets, composed on the spot to honor or poke fun of the person being visited.
Like in the New Year's celebration, music was central to many social rituals in colonial New Mexico. In the Rio Grand region, weddings were performed in song in a folk ceremony called "The Delivery of the Newlyweds." The community would gather to sanction the new couple and "deliver" them in song to each other and to their respective families. The verses of the song, played to a lively waltz, were improvised, but followed a familiar pattern. The first verses spoke about marriage in general. These were followed by serious and humorous verses offering practical advice to the couple. Then all the guests filed past to bless the couple and concluding verses were sung to honor specific individuals such as the best man. At the wedding dance, la marcha was performed. In this triumphal march, couples formed into single files of men and women. After dancing in concentric circles, the men and women lined up opposite one another with their hands joined overhead to form a tunnel of love from which the new couple was the last to emerge.
By the turn of the twentieth century, styles were evolving and musical forms popular in previous eras were giving way to new tastes. The ancient romance ballads were replaced by newer forms that featured more local and contemporary events. The extraordinary indita was no longer performed and the canción, or popular song, had begun its rise. However, many of the wedding traditions of the colonial era are still in practice today. The music that was so central to life in the remote colony of New Mexico has much to teach us about the unique and vibrant culture that once flourished there.
- The primary purpose of the first paragraph is to
- describe the geography of New Mexico.
- instruct readers about the history of the Spanish colonies along the Rio Grand.
- introduce readers to the unique culture and musical traditions along the Rio Grand.
- list the types of music that were prevalent in colonial New Mexico.
- explain the unique musical traditions of the New Mexican colonies.
- In line 23, the word singular most nearly means
- According to the passage, the musical tradition found in New Mexico was the result of all the following EXCEPT
- distance from cultural centers.
- the blending of cultures.
- the geography of the region.
- the imposition of European culture on native traditions.
- unique ways of playing instruments.
- The New Year's celebration and wedding ceremony described in the passage share in common
- offering of practical advice.
- use of a lively march.
- use of improvised verses.
- visiting of houses.
- singing and dancing.
- According to the passage, the main purpose of the "Delivery of the Newlyweds" was to
- sanction and bless the new couple.
- form a tunnel of love.
- marry couples who did not want a Church wedding.
- offer advice to the new couple.
- sing improvised songs to newlyweds.
- Which of the titles provided below is most appropriate for this passage?
- Wedding Marches and New Year's Waltzes of the Rio Grand
- The Fading Era of Colonial Music in New Mexico
- Cowboy Songs of the Past
- Between Deserts and Mountains New Mexico Sings a Unique Song
- The Extraordinary Popular and Ceremonial Music of the Rio Grand
- The author's attitude toward the music of colonial New Mexico can best be described as
Questions 8–16 are based on the following passages.
In Passage 1, the author describes the life and influence of blues guitarist Robert Johnson. In Passage 2, the author provides a brief history of the blues.
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