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 16

Which one of the following statements, if true, would weaken the author’s claim that humans are musicking creatures?


Let us examine the given statements:

Option A: [Nonmusical capacities are of far greater consequence to human survival than the capacity for music.] It is unclear how this ties into the discussion since the survival aspect is not touched upon or implied in the passage. Thus, the claim, if true, does little to undermine the author's claim that humans are musicking creatures.  

Option B: [From a cognitive and psychological vantage, musicking arises from unconscious dispositions, not conscious ones.] This does not weaken the author's claim that musicking is a universal aspect of the human experience - while the author does suggest that musicking arises from innate dispositions, the fact that these dispositions may be unconscious rather than conscious does not weaken the overall argument.

Option C: [As musicking is neither language-like nor symbol-like, it is a much older form of expression.]  This, again, does not contradict the author's claim in the passage. Though the author suggests that musicking is distinct from language and symbol-making, this does not necessarily mean that it is a much older form of expression. In fact, the author notes that the emergence of musicking can be traced back to at least 50,000 years ago, which is relatively recent in evolutionary terms. Even if this were true, it does not undermine the author's claim.

Option D: [Musical capacities are primarily socio-cultural, which explains the wide diversity of musical forms.] If true, this directly contradicts the author's claim that musicking is a universal aspect of the human experience. The author argues that the capacity for musicking is innate in all humans and that it has a long history that is both sociocultural and biological in nature. However, if musical capacities are primarily socio-cultural, as suggested in Option D, this would mean that musicking is largely shaped by cultural and social factors rather than being a fundamental aspect of the human experience. This would greatly weaken the author's overall argument that all humans are musicking creatures. Hence, Option D is the correct choice.

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