Method of Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (B)
In this two-speaker stimulus, the music professor puts forth a fairly straightforward argument,
presenting two supporting premises followed by a conclusion about rap as a musical form. First, rap
musicians can work alone in a studio, without having to keep any other musicians happy. Second,
learning rap is a fairly informal process when compared to the process of learning an instrument.
Based on these two premises, the music professor concludes that rap is a non-traditional and very
individualistic form of music. The argument can be broken down simply as follows:
- Premise: Rap musicians can work alone in a studio, without the need to collaborate
with other musicians.
Premise: Learning to rap is a relatively informal process.
Conclusion: Thus, rap is both individualistic and nontraditional.
The music critic’s response begins with the word “but,” and proceeds to take issue with both of
the music professor’s supporting premises. First, on the topic of whether rap is nontraditional: rap
samples small pieces of older songs, thus appealing to tradition, and regardless, rap has developed
its own musical tradition in terms of theme and style. Second, in response to the issue of rap as
an extremely individualistic musical form, the critic points out that if a rap musician wishes to be
successful, his or her style must conform to the preferences of the public to some extent. The critic’s
response can be broken down simply as follows:
- Refuting the professor’s first premise with a new premise: Rap does have its own tradition,
and also appeals to tradition by sampling bits of older songs.
Refuting the professor’s second premise with another new premise: Even though learning
to rap might be an informal process, rappers are not completely idiosyncratic—rather,
successful rappers must conform their styles to public preference.
By refuting both of the music professor’s supporting premises, the critic effectively undermines the
professor’s conclusion about rap being both non-traditional and extremely individualistic.
The dialogue in the stimulus is followed by a Method of Reasoning question, so the correct answer
choice will accurately describe the music critic’s response. As a possible prephrase of this answer,
we might note that the critic responds by providing two new premises in order to undermine the
professor’s conclusion about rap.
Answer choice (A): This might have been a tempting answer choice, especially placed first, but this
choice is not entirely accurate. The music critic challenges the professor’s argument by refuting both
of the professor’s premises with new considerations (as opposed to presenting evidence to disprove
one of the professor’s premises).
Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, and the one which restates the answer
prephrased above. The critic’s response to the professor’s argument is to point to two new premises in order to refute the professor’s supporting premises and undermine the professor’s conclusion.
Answer choice (C): Both the professor and the critic discuss rap music in particular. The professor
does not generalize to a broader context, but rather confines his or her claims to the topic of rap as a
Answer choice (D): The critic does not provide an alternative explanation of a given phenomenon.
Rather, the critic points to two new premises which conflict with the professor’s stated opinion.
Answer choice (E): The statements made by the music professor are not broad claims about tradition
and individuality in music—they deal with rap music specifically, in support of the professor’s
conclusion that rap is both extremely individualistic and nontraditional.