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The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness

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The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 29 Dec 2018, 20:38
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The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness or melancholy, but to conclude from this that the musical genre of the same name is merely an expression of unrelieved sorrow is to miss its deeper meaning. Despite its frequent focus on such themes as suffering and self-pity, and despite the censure that it has sometimes received from church communities, the blues, understood more fully, actually has much in common with the traditional religious music known as spirituals. Each genre, in its own way, aims to bring about what could be called a spiritual transformation: spirituals produce a religious experience and the blues elicits an analogous response. In fact the blues has even been characterized as a form of “secular spiritual.” The implication of this apparently contradictory terminology is clear: the blues shares an essential aspect of spirituals. Indeed, the blues and spirituals may well arise from a common reservoir of experience,tapping into an aesthetic that underlies many aspects ofAfrican American culture.

Critics have noted that African American folk tradition, in its earliest manifestations, does not sharply differentiate reality into sacred and secular strains or into irreconcilable dichotomies between good and evil, misery and joy. This is consistent with the apparently dual aspect of the blues and spirituals. Spirituals, like the blues, often express longing or sorrow, but these plaintive tones are indicative of neither genre’s full scope: both aim at transforming their participants’ spirits to elation and exaltation. In this regard, both musical forms may be linked to traditional African American culture in North America and to its ancestral cultures in West Africa, in whose traditional religions worshippers play an active role in invoking the divine—in creating the psychological conditions that are conducive to religious experience. These conditions are often referred to as “ecstasy,” which is to be understood here with its etymological connotation of standing out from oneself, or rather from one’s background psychological state and from one’s centered concept of self.

Working in this tradition, blues songs serve to transcend negative experiences by invoking the negative so that it can be transformed through the virtuosity and ecstatic mastery of the performer. This process produces a double-edged irony that is often evident in blues lyrics themselves; consider, for example the lines “If the blues was money, I’d be a millionaire,” in which the singer reconfigures the experience of sorrow into a paradoxical asset through a kind of boasting bravado. One critic has observed that the impulse behind the blues is the desire to keep painful experiences alive in the performer and audience not just for their own sake, but also in order to coax from these experiences a lyricism that is both tragic and comic.
1. Based on the passage, with which one of the following statements would the author be most likely to agree?

(A) The emphasis on spiritual transcendence takes the blues out of the realm of folk art and into the realm of organized religion.
(B) Little of the transcendent aspect of the blues is retained in its more modern, electronically amplified, urban forms.
(C) Other forms of African American folk art rely heavily on uses of irony similar to those observed in the blues.
(D) The distinctive musical structure of blues songs is the primary means of producing tensions between sadness and transcendence.
(E) The blues may be of psychological benefit to its listeners.


2. Each of the following is indicated by the passage as a shared aspect of the blues and spirituals EXCEPT:

(A) expressions of sorrow or longing
(B) a striving to bring about a kind of spiritual transformation
(C) a possible link to ancestral West African cultures
(D) the goal of producing exalted emotions
(E) the use of traditional religious terminology in their lyrics


3. Which one of the following most accurately expresses what the author intends “a common reservoir of experience” (line 18) to refer to?

(A) a set of experiences that members of differing cultures frequently undergo and that similarly affects the music of those cultures
(B) set of ordinary experiences that underlies the development of all musical forms
(C) a set of experiences that contributed to the development of both the blues and spirituals
(D) a set of musically relevant experiences that serves to differentiate reality into irreconcilable dichotomies
(E) a set of experiences arising from the folk music of a community and belonging to the community at large


4. The primary purpose of the second paragraph is to

(A) uncover the shared origin of both the blues and spirituals
(B) examine the process by which ecstasy is produced
(C) identify the musical precursors of the blues
(D) explore the sacred and secular strains of the blues
(E) trace the early development of African American folk tradition


5. The reference to “standing out from oneself” in line 39 primarily serves to

(A) distinguish the standard from the nonstandard, and thus incorrect, use of a word
(B) specify a particular sense of a word that the author intends the word to convey
(C) point out a word that incorrectly characterizes experiences arising from blues performance
(D) identify a way in which religious participation differs from blues performance
(E) indicate the intensity that a good blues artist brings to a performance


6. Which one of the following is most closely analogous to the author’s account of the connections among the blues, spirituals, and certain West African religious practices?

(A) Two species of cacti, which are largely dissimilar, have very similar flowers; this has been proven to be due to the one’s evolution from a third species, whose flowers are nonetheless quite different from theirs.
(B) Two species of ferns, which are closely similar in most respects, have a subtly different arrangement of stem structures; nevertheless, they may well be related to a third, older species, which has yet a different arrangement of stem structures.
(C) Two types of trees, which botanists have long believed to be unrelated, should be reclassified in light of the essential similarities of their flower structures and their recently discovered relationship to another species, from which they both evolved.
(D) Two species of grass, which may have some subtle similarities, are both very similar to a third species, and thus it can be inferred that the third species evolved from one of the two species.
(E) Two species of shrubs, which seem superficially unalike, have a significantly similar leaf structure; this may be due to their relation to a third, older species, which is similar to both of them.


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Originally posted by Gladiator59 on 29 Dec 2018, 07:49.
Last edited by Gladiator59 on 29 Dec 2018, 20:38, edited 2 times in total.
formatted post to remove annoying whitespaces.
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Re: The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Dec 2018, 18:26

+1 kudos to the posts containing answer explanations of all questions


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Re: The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Dec 2018, 07:53
really tough,got only 2 right total 18mins
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Re: The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Dec 2018, 09:41
Could someone explain Q1? Thank you!
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Re: The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Jan 2019, 01:02
5/5 left ques no 1
all question requires good POE
How I grasped important Info

The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness or melancholy, but to conclude from this that the musical genre of the same name is merely an expression of unrelieved sorrow is to miss its deeper meaning. Despite its frequent focus on such themes as suffering and self-pity, and despite the censure that it has sometimes received from church communities, the blues, understood more fully, actually has much in common with the traditional religious music known as spirituals. Each genre, in its own way, aims to bring about what could be called a spiritual transformation: spirituals produce a religious experience and the blues elicits an analogous response. In fact the blues has even been characterized as a form of “secular spiritual.” The implication of this apparently contradictory terminology is clear: the blues shares an essential aspect of spirituals. Indeed, the blues and spirituals may well arise from a common reservoir of experience, tapping into an aesthetic that underlies many aspects of African American culture.

Critics have noted that African American folk tradition, in its earliest manifestations, does not sharply differentiate reality into sacred and secular strains or into irreconcilable dichotomies between good and evil, misery and joy. This is consistent with the apparently dual aspect of the blues and spirituals. Spirituals, like the blues, often express longing or sorrow, but these plaintive tones are indicative of neither genre’s full scope: both aim at transforming their participants’ spirits to elation and exaltation. In this regard, both musical forms may be linked to traditional African American culture in North America and to its ancestral cultures in West Africa, in whose traditional religions worshippers play an active role in invoking the divine—in creating the psychological conditions that are conducive to religious experience. These conditions are often referred to as “ecstasy,” which is to be understood here with its etymological connotation of standing out from oneself, or rather from one’s background psychological state and from one’s centered concept of self.

Working in this tradition, blues songs serve to transcend negative experiences by invoking the negative so that it can be transformed through the virtuosity and ecstatic mastery of the performer. This process produces a double-edged irony that is often evident in blues lyrics themselves; consider, for example the lines “If the blues was money, I’d be a millionaire,” in which the singer reconfigures the experience of sorrow into a paradoxical asset through a kind of boasting bravado. One critic has observed that the impulse behind the blues is the desire to keep painful experiences alive in the performer and audience not just for their own sake, but also in order to coax from these experiences a lyricism that is both tragic and comic.

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Re: The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jan 2019, 19:32
Gladiator59 workout

Please post OE for the questions. I got 4/6 correct. Took 14 mins . Need to know answer for 1 and 6 questions
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Re: The term “blues” is conventionally used to refer to a state of sadness   [#permalink] 21 Jan 2019, 19:32
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