Music Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 2 (page 3)

Updated on Sep 27, 2011


  1. c. The first paragraph introduces the topic of the passage, the musical traditions of colonial New Mexico. Choices a and d are too narrow, and choice b is too broad. Choice e is the purpose of the entire passage, not the first paragraph alone.
  2. d. Singular means of or relating to a single instance, or something considered by itself. Although strange and superior can be synonyms for singular, the author emphasizes throughout the passage that the music is unique. Unusual is closest in meaning to unique. Also, note that in the next sentence the author states that the bailes had unusual melodic structures and the players had unique methods of bowing and tuning their instruments.
  3. d. The passage does not explicitly state that European culture was imposed on native traditions. Rather, it states that the cultures mixed to give rise to the music.
  4. c. The passage clearly states that both ceremonies used improvised verses. The New Year's celebration included improvised couplets, composed on the spot (lines 40–41) and the verses of the song [of the wedding ceremony], played to a lively waltz, were improvised (lines 48–49). Each of the other choices is true for one of the ceremonies but not both.
  5. a. The sentence following the first mention of the ceremony states its purpose: the community would gather to sanction the new couple (lines 46–47). It is stated that the guests file past to bless the couple (line 42). Choices b, d, and e are all part of the ceremony but not its main purpose. Choice c is not explicitly supported by the text.
  6. e. This title indicates that the passage covers both popular and ceremonial music and introduces the main theme of the passage: the unique (extraordinary) musical tradition of the Rio Grand region. The other choices are all too narrow (choice d), or are totally inappropriate (choice c).
  7. b. The introductory and final paragraphs of the passage reveal the author's admiration for the music. In line 8 the author describes the musical tradition as unique, rich and lines 9–10 he or she calls the ceremonial music some of the most extraordinary . . . in the Hispanic world." In line 62, the author describes the indita as extraordinary. Although he or she describes the tradition in positive terms, awe overstates the case.
  8. c. In Passage 1, the author provides a limited chronology of Johnson's life (paragraphs 2, 3, and 4) and briefly describes his influence on blues and rock and roll (paragraphs 1 and 5).
  9. b. In paragraph 3 of Passage 1, the author describes how Johnson was not very good at playing the guitar but that he wanted to learn and so spent his time in blues bars watching the local blues legends (lines 19–20). That he disappeared for some time and then returned as a first-rate guitarist (lines 26–27) also suggests Johnson's determination.
  10. a. In lines 10–12 of Passage 2, the author describes how the blues came to be called the blues—thus neologism means a new word or new meaning or use of a word.
  11. d. This sentence states that the blues remakes were enjoyed by all kinds of people—black and white, young and old (line 43)—and suggests why the songs were so popular by describing how the lyrics touched a common emotional chord in listeners, all of whom have had the blues from one or more of the sources listed in the sentence.
  12. d. The author states that the blues was a music perfectly suited for a nation on the brink of the Civil Rights movement because it was music that had the power to cross boundaries, to heal wounds, and to offer hope to a new generation of Americans (lines 47–50). The previous sentence states that the music was popular with both the black and white, young and old (line 43). Thus, the author suggests that this shared musical experience helped promote understanding across racial boundaries and thereby ease racial tensions.
  13. b. Neither author explicitly states that Robert Johnson is the best blues guitarist of his era, although this is implied by the author of Passage 1, who states that Johnson's impact on the world of rock and roll is indisputable (lines 3–4) and quotes Eric Clapton as saying Johnson is the most important blues musician who ever lived (lines 8–9). However, the author of Passage 2 simply lists Johnson in the same sentence as his mentors Son House and Willie Brown (lines 33–34), without suggesting that any one of these artists was better than the other.
  14. c. Passage 1 states from the beginning that there is little information about Johnson and that the information that is available is as much rumor as fact(lines 2–3). There is also no definitive answer regarding how Johnson acquired his talent (paragraph 4), and the author uses the word purportedly in lines 34–35 to further emphasize the speculative nature of the narrative. Passage 2, on the other hand, provides many specific facts in the form of names and dates to present a text that is factual and assertive.
  15. a. Passage 1 describes the life and influence of one specific blues artist, while Passage 2 provides a general overview of the history of the blues.
  16. c. At the end of Passage 1, the author describes the reason so many artists record Johnson's songs: his music capture[s] the very essence of the blues, transforming our pain and suffering with the healing magic of his guitar (lines 41–42). This sentence "proves" the idea stated in Passage 2 that 'the blues' is something of a misnomer. This is the only sentence from Passage 2 that fits the focus of Passage 1; the others concern the development or defining characteristics of the blues.
  17. a. The passage is a neutral narration of Mozart's childhood and the beginnings of his musical career. Choices c, d, and e can be eliminated because the author does not take a side or try to prove a point. Choice b is incorrect because the author does not make any generalizations about the classical music "scene."
  18. c. The passage clearly states that Wolfgang took an interest in the clavier when his sister was learning the instrument.
  19. c. The passage states (lines 18–19) that Wolfgang's first public appearance was at Linz and that after this concert word of his genius traveled to Vienna. The passage states earlier that Vienna was the capital of the Hapsburg Empire.
  20. b. The author's tone toward Leopold is mild—neither strongly approving nor disapproving. In a few places, however, the author conveys some disappointment, especially lines 34–36 in which she states that Leopold set an exhausting schedule for Wolfgang.
  21. c. Lavish means expended or produced in abundance. Both wasteful and extravagant are synonyms for lavish, but, because it is modifying palace, extravagant is the more logical choice.
  22. d. The author's language emphasizes Mozart's imagination. The phrase engrossed in the intricacies of his make-believe court suggests a child with a lively imagination. None of the other choices is directly supported by the text.
  23. e. The text directly states that the pattern established in his childhood would be the template for the rest of his short life. Choice d could be misleading as the text states that Mozart was buried in an unmarked grave. However, it also states that this was customary at the time so one cannot infer that he died an anonymous pauper.
  24. b. Lauded means praised or blessed. The meaning of the word can be inferred from the structure of the paragraph. The paragraph begins by summing up Mozart's childhood, and then describes how the features of his childhood were mirrored in his adult life. In his childhood Mozart played for, and amazed, the heads of the British and French royal families and likewise as an adult he was lauded for his genius. From the structure, one can infer that to be lauded is something positive. Of the positive choices, praised makes more sense in the sentence than coveted.
  25. d. The author does not directly state that Mozart's illnesses were the result of exhaustion. She may imply this by describing Mozart's exhausting schedule and then stating that he became ill on tour. However, she does not make the connection explicit.
  26. b. The main point of the passage is to describe Mozart's experiences as a child prodigy, or a highly talented child. Choices a and c are too narrow in scope, and choices d and e are not explicitly stated in the passage.

For more practice on music critical reading questions, review:

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