CAT 2022 Question Paper (Slot 2) - VARC Question 14


The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

Humans today make music. Think beyond all the qualifications that might trail after this bald statement: that only certain humans make music, that extensive training is involved, that many societies distinguish musical specialists from nonmusicians, that in today’s societies most listen to music rather than making it, and so forth. These qualifications, whatever their local merit, are moot in the face of the overarching truth that making music, considered from a cognitive and psychological vantage, is the province of all those who perceive and experience what is made. We are, almost all of us, musicians — everyone who can entrain (not necessarily dance) to a beat, who can recognize a repeated tune (not necessarily sing it), who can distinguish one instrument or one singing voice from another. I will often use an antique word, recently revived, to name this broader musical experience. Humans are musicking creatures. . . .

The set of capacities that enables musicking is a principal marker of modern humanity. There is nothing polemical in this assertion except a certain insistence, which will figure often in what follows, that musicking be included in our thinking about fundamental human commonalities. Capacities involved in musicking are many and take shape in complicated ways, arising from innate dispositions . . . Most of these capacities overlap with nonmusical ones, though a few may be distinct and dedicated to musical perception and production. In the area of overlap, linguistic capacities seem to be particularly important, and humans are (in principle) language-makers in addition to music-makers — speaking creatures as well as musicking ones.

Humans are symbol-makers too, a feature tightly bound up with language, not so tightly with music. The species Cassirer dubbed Homo symbolicus cannot help but tangle musicking in webs of symbolic thought and expression, habitually making it a component of behavioral complexes that form such expression. But in fundamental features musicking is neither language-like nor symbol-like, and from these differences come many clues to its ancient emergence.

If musicking is a primary, shared trait of modern humans, then to describe its emergence must be to detail the coalescing of that modernity. This took place, archaeologists are clear, over a very long durée: at least 50,000 years or so, more likely something closer to 200,000, depending in part on what that coalescence is taken to comprise. If we look back 20,000 years, a small portion of this long period, we reach the lives of humans whose musical capacities were probably little different from our own. As we look farther back we reach horizons where this similarity can no longer hold — perhaps 40,000 years ago, perhaps 70,000, perhaps 100,000. But we never cross a line before which all the cognitive capacities recruited in modern musicking abruptly disappear. Unless we embrace the incredible notion that music sprang forth in full-blown glory, its emergence will have to be tracked in gradualist terms across a long period.

This is one general feature of a history of music’s emergence . . . The history was at once sociocultural and biological . . . The capacities recruited in musicking are many, so describing its emergence involves following several or many separate strands.

Question 14

“Think beyond all the qualifications that might trail after this bald statement . . .” In the context of the passage, what is the author trying to communicate in this quoted extract?


In this context, the author is trying to communicate that although there may be various qualifications and considerations that might trail after the statement that "humans today make music," the statement is fundamentally true. The author suggests that almost all humans are musicians to some extent, and that the capacity for making music is a fundamental aspect of the human experience. The author is urging readers to consider this statement without getting bogged down in the various qualifications and considerations that might be attached to it, and to recognize its underlying truth. Option C aptly captures this idea.

Option A: [Incorrect] The phrase "trail after" does not necessarily imply that a bald statement is followed by a series of qualifying clarifications and caveats. Rather, it simply means that something follows after something else. In this case, the author is suggesting that there may be various qualifications and considerations that follow after the statement that "humans today make music," but is not implying that the statement itself is trailed by a series of clarifications and caveats.

Option B: [Incorrect] The phrase "bald statement" does not necessarily imply that a statement requires no qualifications to infer its meaning. Rather, it simply means that the statement is presented in a straightforward and unembellished way. In this case, the author is suggesting that the statement that "humans today make music" is presented in a bald and straightforward way, but is not implying that the statement itself requires no qualifications or considerations.

Option D: [Incorrect] The phrase "give free reign to" does not accurately describe the author's intention in this context. The author is not suggesting that readers should allow musical expressions to be unrestricted or uncontrolled, but rather that they should consider the statement that "humans today make music" without getting bogged down in various qualifications and considerations.

Hence, Option C is the correct choice. 

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