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Unit 1: Lesson 10

Reading Comprehension - Worked Examples

Humanities passage overview | Music (paired passages)

Watch a demonstration of how to use active reading strategies to approach two paired passages about a humanities topic on the LSAT.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user ujjwalshreya20
    The video is in-depth analysing the two passages but in the exam, we will more than one reading comprehension. How much time should I spend annotating each passage?
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] Here's a pair of passages that are about the humanities. These passages are about the ways that people respond to music. As you read passages in the LSAT, in general, it's worthwhile to try to separate the primary claims the author of each passage makes from the evidence they use to support those claims. I'm also gonna focus on contrast words like but, and however, and yet, and although, if I see them. I also look for connections that are tying paragraphs together and help us better understand how the paragraphs relate to each other. I might underline or circle phrases or words or use arrows to connect words or ideas. Different points of view are also important, so the viewpoints of people or groups are represented. I'll try to keep those clear in my head. I'll also use active reading strategies and annotation to help with that. Passage A. In music, a certain complexity of sounds can be expected to have a positive effect on the listener. The complexity of sounds and music leads to positive response on listener. A single pure tone is not that interesting to explore; a measure of intricacy is required to excite human curiosity. A semicolon is a continuation of meaning. It basically indicates we're gonna say the same thing again, or say something that's connected to this idea. It's not a contrast, it's a continuation. Complexity, intricacy, those both things are required to excite human curiosity. I'm curious. Go on. Sounds that are too complex or disorganized, however, tend to be overwhelming. So too complex becomes overwhelming. We prefer some sort of coherence, a principle that connects the various sounds and makes them comprehensible. So coherence makes them comprehensible. In this respect, music is like human language. So this paragraph is gonna compare music to human language. Let's see. This is a claim. Let's support that claim. Single sounds are, in most cases, not sufficient to convey meaning in speech, whereas when put together in a sequence, they form words and sentences. Likewise, continuation of meaning, if the tones in music are not perceived to be tied together sequentially or rhythmically, for example, in what is commonly called melody, listeners are less likely to feel any emotional connection or to show appreciation. So we need things to be tied together in sequence or by rhythm, and that leads us to feeling happy about the music we're listening to. Let's keep going. Certain music can also have a relaxing effect. Topic sentence, let's pay special attention to it. The fact that such music tends to be continuous and rhythmical ... Those are the backups to this idea that certain music has a relaxing effect. We have two characteristics of that kind of music. Suggests a possible explanation for this effect. In a natural environment, danger tends to be accompanied by sudden, unexpected sounds. Danger is sudden and unexpected. Thus, therefore, continuation, thus, a background of constant noise suggests peaceful conditions. Discontinuous sounds demand more attention. Even soft discontinuous sounds that we consciously realize do not signal danger can be disturbing. For example, the erratic dripping of a leaky tap, which people find disturbing. A continuous sound, particularly one that is judged to be safe ... So safety relaxes the brain. This whole paragraph is about continuousness versus discontinuous-ness and our responses to that. So let's just have a quick review of passage one. This first passage is about musical complexity and how the level of complexity of a piece of music needs to be optimized in order to maximize our connection. The second paragraph compares music to human language. Both need to be connected in a sequence to create an emotional connection. It then goes on to suggest that continuous and rhythmic music is relaxing, while unexpected noises and discontinuous sounds are disturbing. So it's about this relaxation versus disturbance axis. Let's move on to the second passage. There are certain elements within music, such as a change of melodic line or rhythm, that create expectations about the future development of the music. So we're focusing on expectations about future development. So it's a different idea about music and how we respond to music. The expectation the listener has about the further course of musical events is a key determinant for the experience of musical emotions. Music creates expectations, there we are again, that, if not immediately satisfied, create tension. Emotion is experienced in relation to the buildup and release of tension. The more elaborate the buildup of tension, the more intense the emotions that will be experienced. When resolution occurs, relaxation follows. So we lead resolution to the tension. That gets us to relaxation. So about expectations, tension, leading to relaxation when the tension is released. The interruption of the expected musical course, depending on one's personal involvement, causes the search for an explanation. What's up? This results from a mismatch between one's musical expectation and the actual course of the music. We have musical expectation and the actual course are different, so then we have a mismatch that's gonna change how we respond. Negative emotions will be the result of an extreme mismatch between expectations and experience. Positive emotions result if the converse happens. So negative emotions are from an extreme mismatch. We can connect those. Positive emotions are when that's not an extreme mismatch. Moving on. When we listen to music, we take into account factors such as the complexity and novelty of the music. So we're paying attention to those things while we listen. The degree to which the music sounds familiar determines whether the music is experienced as pleasurable or uncomfortable. Familiarity leads to pleasure or discomfort. The pleasure experienced is minimal when the music is entirely new. So minimal when it's new. Increases with increasing familiarity, and decreases again when the music is totally known. So when that's totally known, we also have minimal pleasure. That means if you get sick of listening to the same song on the radio again and again and again, you might love it at first and say, "This is the best," and then everybody thinks it's the best. You hear it so many times, you just wanna change the channel next time you hear it, so your pleasure decreases as you become too familiar with it. That makes sense. Musical preference is based on one's desire to maintain a constant level of certain preferable emotions. So preference is about maintaining preferable emotions. As such, a trained listener will have a greater preference for complex melodies than will a naive listener, as the threshold for experiencing emotion is higher. So trained listeners like complex melodies, and naive listeners who don't know so much don't like quite as complex melodies because they're confused by them and they're not familiar with them. But trained listeners are more familiar with more complex melodies. So that makes sense. I'm gonna recap the second passage. The second passage focuses on a listener's expectations, and the way that music can create tension by not satisfying those expectations. Extreme mismatch was resulting in negative feelings, and when our expectations are met, we feel pretty good. We like it. The third paragraph of the second passage is introducing this idea of both complexity and familiarity, and as we come more familiar with a piece of music, we like it more, and then if we come too familiar with it, we like it less. When we think about both passages and try to keep them distinct in our heads because these two feel similar, it's important to note that none of these claims seem to be backed up by a whole lot of data. They're also pretty short in any other kind of evidence. This brings me to an important point about the LSAT. You should try your best not to spend any time figuring out if you agree or disagree with the claims that are being made in the passages. Your task is to understand exactly what the authors are saying, and not necessarily to pass any judgment or form any opinion about them. The answers to the questions they're about to answer will all be supported by information that's actually in the passage. So in a way, any outside knowledge about the topics that are being discussed can actually be a burden. Try to approach each passage as an open mind and a totally clean slate. With that in mind, let's head to the questions.