CAT 2019 Reading Comprehension Questions with Solutions

"Free of the taint of manufacture" – that phrase, in particular, is heavily loaded with the ideology of what the Victorian socialist William Morris called the "anti-scrape", or an anticapitalist conservationism (not conservatism) that solaced itself with the vision of a preindustrial golden age. In Britain, folk may often appear a cosy, fossilised form, but when you look more closely, the idea of folk – who has the right to sing it, dance it, invoke it, collect it, belong to it or appropriate it for political or cultural ends – has always been contested territory. . . .

In our own time, though, the word "folk" . . . has achieved the rare distinction of occupying fashionable and unfashionable status simultaneously. Just as the effusive floral prints of the radical William Morris now cover genteel sofas, so the revolutionary intentions of many folk historians and revivalists have led to music that is commonly regarded as parochial and conservative. And yet – as newspaper columns periodically rejoice – folk is hip again, influencing artists, clothing and furniture designers, celebrated at music festivals, awards ceremonies and on TV, reissued on countless record labels. Folk is a sonic "shabby chic", containing elements of the uncanny and eerie, as well as an antique veneer, a whiff of Britain's heathen dark ages. The very obscurity and anonymity of folk music's origins open up space for rampant imaginative fancies. . . .

[Cecil Sharp, who wrote about this subject, believed that] folk songs existed in constant transformation, a living example of an art form in a perpetual state of renewal. "One man sings a song, and then others sing it after him, changing what they do not like" is the most concise summary of his conclusions on its origins. He compared each rendition of a ballad to an acorn falling from an oak tree; every subsequent iteration sows the song anew. But there is tension in newness. In the late 1960s, purists were suspicious of folk songs recast in rock idioms. Electrification, however, comes in many forms. For the early-20th-century composers such as Vaughan Williams and Holst, there were thunderbolts of inspiration from oriental mysticism, angular modernism and the body blow of the first world war, as well as input from the rediscovered folk tradition itself.

For the second wave of folk revivalists, such as Ewan MacColl and AL Lloyd, starting in the 40s, the vital spark was communism's dream of a post-revolutionary New Jerusalem. For their younger successors in the 60s, who thronged the folk clubs set up by the old guard, the lyrical freedom of Dylan and the unchained melodies of psychedelia created the conditions for folkrock's own golden age, a brief Indian summer that lasted from about 1969 to 1971. . . . Four decades on, even that progressive period has become just one more era ripe for fashionable emulation and pastiche. The idea of a folk tradition being exclusively confined to oral transmission has become a much looser, less severely guarded concept. Recorded music and television, for today's metropolitan generation, are where the equivalent of folk memories are seeded. . . .


Question 1:
All of the following are causes for plurality and diversity within the British folk tradition EXCEPT:

  1. paradoxically, folk forms are both popular and unpopular.
  2. that British folk continues to have traces of pagan influence from the dark ages.
  3. that British folk forms can be traced to the remote past of the country.
  4. the fluidity of folk forms owing to their history of oral mode of transmission.
Show Answer
OPTION: 1
This question can be answered just by reading and understanding the options carefully.

Diversity will surely come if there is long history of past influence. Both option 1 and option 2 support that. The fluidity of folk forms means adaptability of folk forms, or flexibility of folk forms. Thus even 4 justifies the idea of diversity.

Option 1 goes out because being popular or unpopular has nothing to do with diversity.


Question 2:
Which of the following statements about folk revivalism of the 1940s and 1960s cannot be inferred from the passage?

  1. Even though it led to folk-rock’s golden age, it wasn’t entirely free from critique.
  2. Electrification of music would not have happened without the influence of rock music.
  3. Freedom and rebellion were popular themes during the second wave of folk revivalism.
  4. It reinforced Cecil Sharp’s observation about folk’s constant transformation.
Show Answer
OPTION: 2
The question asks us to pick a choice that cannot be inferred from the passage. Option 2 certainly cannot be inferred because this is what the passage says:

“In the late 1960s, purists were suspicious of folk songs recast in rock idioms. Electrification, however, comes in many forms.”

The author says that electrification, however, comes in many forms; in other words, electrification need not always come through rock along. It might come from any other form of music as well. Thus option 2 surely cannot be inferred.

Option 4 can be inferred because Cecil Sharp talks about folk music’s ability to adapt. The music of 40s and 60s demonstrates that adaptation.

The passage says that in the late 1960s, Purists were suspicious of folk songs recast in rock idioms, this suggests that it had critics. The purists were those critics. This supports choice 1

“…the lyrical freedom of Bob Dylan…” this phrase comes in support of choice 3


Question 3:
The author says that folk “may often appear a cosy, fossilised form” because:

  1. it has been arrogated for various political and cultural purposes.
  2. folk is a sonic “shabby chic” with an antique veneer.
  3. the notion of folk has led to several debates and disagreements.
  4. of its nostalgic association with a pre-industrial past.
Show Answer
OPTION: 4
something that is fossilized belongs to or reminds of the past. The only correct choice that can be convincingly picked is choice 4. Rest all don’t justify the word ‘fossilised’


Question 4:
The primary purpose of the reference to William Morris and his floral prints is to show:

  1. the pervasive influence of folk on contemporary art, culture, and fashion.
  2. that what was once derided as genteel is now considered revolutionary.
  3. that what is once regarded as radical in folk, can later be seen as conformist.
  4. that despite its archaic origins, folk continues to remain a popular tradition.
Show Answer
OPTION: 3
Our team could not come up with the correct explanation for this question, though by elimination and by understanding the context, we can arrive at option 3 as the right choice.


Question 5:
At a conference on folk forms, the author of the passage is least likely to agree with which one of the following views?

  1. The power of folk resides in its contradictory ability to influence and be influenced by the present while remaining rooted in the past.
  2. Folk forms, despite their archaic origins, remain intellectually relevant in contemporary times.
  3. Folk forms, in their ability to constantly adapt to the changing world, exhibit an unusual poise and homogeneity with each change.
  4. The plurality and democratising impulse of folk forms emanate from the improvisation that its practitioners bring to it.
Show Answer
OPTION: 3
Right across the passage the author appreciates how folk forms have been used my modern musicians, and appreciates the fusion of folk with other forms of music.

Option 1 supports the author’s opinion by asserting that folk forms have the ability to influence and be influenced by. The author will agree with this statement.

Option 2 also supports the author’s contention that folk forms were relevant and are relevant even today

Option 4 also supports the author’s point and therefore the author is likely to agree with this point

Option 3 is the right choice because it says that folk music exhibit unusual homogeneity. If there is homogeneity, then the idea of the adapting and infusing with other kinds of music is not valid. Thus the author will not agree with this. The author would rather say that folk music, by influencing and by getting influenced, becomes heterogeneous and not homogenous. Heterogeneous means mixed with varieties, while homogenous means comprising things of the same type.


CAT 2019 RC sets

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