September 16, 2007

Reading Comprehension

One of my roommates is currently preparing to take the LSAT. He shared with me this question from one of his prep books:
In recent years the early music movement, which advocates performing a work as it was performed at the time of its composition, has taken on the character of a crusade, particularly as it has moved beyond the sphere of medieval and baroque music and into music from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. Granted, knowledge about the experience of playing old music on now-obsolete instruments has been of inestimable value to scholars. Nevertheless, the early music approach to performance raises profound and troubling questions. [...]
The passage continues to discuss such hard-hitting issues as instrument design, tempo choices, and applause etiquette (!). Who would've expected to see these questions posed outside our own [blogo]sphere. Here are a couple samples:
The author suggests that the final movements of symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven might be played more slowly by today's orchestras if which one of the following were to occur?
  1. orchestras were to use instruments no more advanced in design than those used by orchestras at the time Mozart and Beethoven composed their symphonies
  2. audiences were to return to the custom of applauding at the end of each movement of a symphony
  3. audiences were to reserve their most entusiastic applause for the most brilliantly played finales
  4. conductors were to return to the practice of playing the chords on an orchestral piano to keep the orchestra together
  5. conductors were to conduct the symphonies in the manner in which Beethoven and Mozart had conducted them
The author suggests that the modern audience's tendency to withhold applause until the end of a symphony's performance is primarily related to which one of the following?
  1. the replacement of the orchestral piano as a method of keeping the orchestra together
  2. a gradual increase since the time of Mozart and Beethoven in audiences' expectations regarding teh ability of orchestral musicians
  3. a change since the early nineteenth century in audiences' concepts of musical excitement and intensity
  4. a more sophisticated appreciation of the structural integrity of the symphony as a piece of music
  5. the tendency of orchestral musicians to employ their most brilliant effects in the early movements of symphonies composed by Mozart and Beethoven
For the record, my roommate's got his money on answers 2 and 3, respectively.


Scott Spiegelberg said...

I'd go with 2 and 4. The structural cohesiveness of multi-movement works, even when they are suites, is stressed in program notes and by the performers (especially conductors).

Colst said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
briang said...

Of course, on your music-centric blog, the correct answers can be debated based on the debate participants knowledge.

However, For the LSAT comprehension section, no factual knowledge is required. They just test your ability to discern and distill the written sample. At some point later in the sample, the author will address the two questions using slightly different language.

And yes, I used to teach a test prep course.

Anonymous said...

I agree with briang, for the lsat the answer would be based on the logic/argument of the passage. In terms of music, the correct answer could be a 'wrong answer' as long as the argument/logic is valid and can be determined without any knowledge of the subject.
Really it seems like the most important part of the passage would would allow the answers to be determined followed where you stopped the quote [...].

Anonymous said...

Answer 4 is the only one that makes any sense at all. Consider, for example, Symphony No.4 of Schumann. There is an elision between the first and second movements. What if people started clapping right there? Music would be lost or distorted. Would that not be both frustratting and silly?