IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 78

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The History of Sound in Film 

A The early twentieth century brought a multitude of changes to the entertainment business. In the 1920s, innovators advanced the medium of film by playing with new technology and new styles. Color processors were added and multiple projectors were used. The television was invented and screen sizes expanded. Yet, more significant than the transition from black and white to Technicolor or the expansion of size was the addition of sound to film in the 1920s. These early “talking pictures,” or simply “talkies,” would eventually become all the rage and change the direction of cinema forever.

B Before this change, silent films were not in fact “silent.” A variety of sounds were created to enhance the motion picture experience for the patron. Almost every theater had a piano or an organ that a musician would play to accompany the action on screen. Some theaters employed even more elaborate set-ups. In Japan, for instance, “benshi” provided live narration; the voice actors stood to one side of the screen, sometimes voicing multiple roles alongside the original musical compositions. And in some cases, original music was composed to go along with a particular film. An example of these original musical films can be seen in the 1925 soviet film “The Battleship Potemkin,” screened in Berlin. When The Battleship Potemkin first played outside the USSR in Berlin, Germany, director Sergei Eisenstein teamed up with Austrian composer Edmund Meisel to produce a musical score that matched sound to image.

C While we now take for granted the use of sound in movies, it was not always seen as an inevitable development. Before World War One, innovators had played with adding sound to recorded movies. As early as 1900, public exhibitions of sound films had taken place. However, the technology available didn’t match filmmakers’ ambitions. Not only were recording and amplification quality poor, but it was difficult to synchronize sound and film reliably. The result – a poor quality recording out of sync with the action on film - made viewers of the 1920s skeptical about the future of sound in films. Many thought that it would soon fade. Though critics of early sound films disregarded their ongoing popularity, innovative filmmakers continued their experiments. Eventually, as scientific interest in sound technology progressed, so did the public’s desire for film with sound.

D The phone was being developed in this era, and wireless technologies began to surface. In the United States, firms like the American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) and General Electric (GE) emerged as industry leaders, as they pursued new forms of sound technology and all potential avenues for commercial exploitation. Commercial radio programming began, spawning an entirely new outlet for entertainment and news. Clearly, the world was enjoying the newfound success in sound technology, and it was only a matter of time before the film industry caught up.

E Until 1927, only short films were made with sound. In October of that year came Warner Brothers release of The Jazz Singer, the first full-length feature film incorporating sound. Using the most advanced sound-on-disc technology of the time, it was a resounding success. But other major studios were rather slow to join the movement. Warner Bros. released three more successful feature-length talkies in the following year, and it wasn’t until September 1928 that another studio – Paramount – brought out its own sound film: Beggars of Life. Seeing the profits that Warner Bros. was reaping, all of the other major studios followed suit over the next year and a half. In 1929, only two years after The Jazz Singer, the United States released over 300 sound films, including many with music. The trend was so swift that by 1930, virtually all American theaters had been retrofitted for sound.

F Talkies were not purely an American phenomenon. European filmmakers, following the release of The Jazz Singer in September of 1928, realized the potential and joined the fray. In 1929, most major filmmakers in Europe embraced the new technology, but they had to shoot their films abroad while their domestic studios scrambled to catch up technologically. And it wasn’t only studios that lagged behind the filmmakers; conversion of theaters happened somewhat slowly, which meant that many European filmmakers created two versions of each movie: one with sound, one without. Eventually, Britain matched the pace of conversion in America, with well over half of theaters becoming sound-equipped by the end of 1930. In France, on the other hand, a majority of venues were still fully silent in late 1932.

(A) is incorrect. It is true that the showing in Germany was different because it had original music, but we don’t have information to tell us that it received greater praise.

(B) is incorrect. “Edmund Meisel” is the name of the composer; he wrote the music, but he didn’t help write the movie.

(C) is incorrect because the passage does not tell us that the music was “recorded.”

(D) is correct. We know that it was “original music to go along” with the movie, and we learn that it was for when the movie “first played.” That means that it was the “premier,” or the first performance, of the music.
(A) is incorrect. It might seem logical that people just didn’t want things to change, but we don’t have information in the paragraph to support this idea.

(B) is correct! The sentence tells us that “poor quality recording” made people skeptical. That means the early attempts produced poor results.

(C) is incorrect for the same reasons as (A).

(D) is incorrect because there is no evidence that sound didn’t have financial support, even if it seems logical that it might not because it wasn’t popular.
First, we should find where this film is mentioned in the passage:

But other major studios were rather slow to join the movement. Warner Bros. released three more successful feature-length talkies in the following year, and it wasn’t until September 1928 that another studio – Paramount – brought out its own sound film: Beggars of Life.

So, what is significant about this movie? “It wasn’t until” means “it didn’t happen until” for some kind of surprising fact.

(A) is incorrect because, in fact, The Jazz Singer used sound-on-disc technology before Beggars of Life.

(B) is incorrect. After this movie is first mentioned, we later see that virtually all theaters were retrofitted for sound, but we don’t have evidence to say that the movie prompted that.

(C) is incorrect. Nothing tells us this fact either.
This statement is FALSE because it makes an incorrect cause-effect situation. Filmmakers made two versions because theaters were slow to convert, not the other way around.
Early mainstream filmmakers did not listen to the public's demand for sound films. People at that time believed that sound films would fade soon, but filmmakers continue to experiment with adding sounds to films.



This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 27-40.
Questions 27-32
The reading passage has six paragraphs labelled A-F.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter A-F in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

27. An account of the use of sound in films spreading to another part of the world

28. A reference to what is considered a ground-breaking sound film

29. An account of how the early movie industry was altered by contemporary technology

30. An outline of the difficulties faced by the early sound pioneers

31. A reference to motion pictures before the advent of sound

32. How other areas of innovation produced a greater demand for sound

Questions 33-37
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 33-37 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this.

33. Before the “talkies,” movies incorporated sound through live music and narration.

34. Early mainstream film makers  listened to the public’s demand for sound films.

35. Then the first full length sound movie was released, other studios could not compete.

36. The conversion of theaters in Europe happened slowly because European filmmakers continued to create a sound and non-sound version of their movies.

37. By the end of the 1920s, sound films had become widely accepted in the United States and most of Europe.

Questions 38-40
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 38-40 on your answer sheet.

38. Which of the following is true about the film “The Battleship Potemkin”?

39. Some people believed that sound in films would not achieve popularity because …

40. What is the significance of the film Beggars of Life?




Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40


Reading Passage Vocabulary
The History of Sound in Film 


A The early twentieth century brought a multitude of changes to the entertainment business. In the 1920s, innovators advanced the medium of film by playing with new technology and new styles. Color processors were added and multiple projectors were used. The television was invented and screen sizes expanded. Yet, more significant than the transition from black and white to Technicolor or the expansion of size was the addition of sound to film in the 1920s. These early “talking pictures,” or simply “talkies,” would eventually become all the rage and change the direction of cinema forever.

B Before this change, silent films were not in fact “silent.” A variety of sounds were created to enhance the motion picture experience for the patron. Almost every theater had a piano or an organ that a musician would play to accompany the action on screen. Some theaters employed even more elaborate set-ups. In Japan, for instance, “benshi” provided live narration; the voice actors stood to one side of the screen, sometimes voicing multiple roles alongside the original musical compositions. And in some cases, original music was composed to go along with a particular film. An example of these original musical films can be seen in the 1925 soviet film “The Battleship Potemkin,” screened in Berlin. When The Battleship Potemkin first played outside the USSR in Berlin, Germany, director Sergei Eisenstein teamed up with Austrian composer Edmund Meisel to produce a musical score that matched sound to image.

C While we now take for granted the use of sound in movies, it was not always seen as an inevitable development. Before World War One, innovators had played with adding sound to recorded movies. As early as 1900, public exhibitions of sound films had taken place. However, the technology available didn’t match filmmakers’ ambitions. Not only were recording and amplification quality poor, but it was difficult to synchronize sound and film reliably. The result – a poor quality recording out of sync with the action on film - made viewers of the 1920s skeptical about the future of sound in films. Many thought that it would soon fade. Though critics of early sound films disregarded their ongoing popularity, innovative filmmakers continued their experiments. Eventually, as scientific interest in sound technology progressed, so did the public’s desire for film with sound.

D The phone was being developed in this era, and wireless technologies began to surface. In the United States, firms like the American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) and General Electric (GE) emerged as industry leaders, as they pursued new forms of sound technology and all potential avenues for commercial exploitation. Commercial radio programming began, spawning an entirely new outlet for entertainment and news. Clearly, the world was enjoying the newfound success in sound technology, and it was only a matter of time before the film industry caught up.

E Until 1927, only short films were made with sound. In October of that year came Warner Brothers release of The Jazz Singer, the first full-length feature film incorporating sound. Using the most advanced sound-on-disc technology of the time, it was a resounding success. But other major studios were rather slow to join the movement. Warner Bros. released three more successful feature-length talkies in the following year, and it wasn’t until September 1928 that another studio – Paramount – brought out its own sound film: Beggars of Life. Seeing the profits that Warner Bros. was reaping, all of the other major studios followed suit over the next year and a half. In 1929, only two years after The Jazz Singer, the United States released over 300 sound films, including many with music. The trend was so swift that by 1930, virtually all American theaters had been retrofitted for sound.

F Talkies were not purely an American phenomenon. European filmmakers, following the release of The Jazz Singer in September of 1928, realized the potential and joined the fray. In 1929, most major filmmakers in Europe embraced the new technology, but they had to shoot their films abroad while their domestic studios scrambled to catch up technologically. And it wasn’t only studios that lagged behind the filmmakers; conversion of theaters happened somewhat slowly, which meant that many European filmmakers created two versions of each movie: one with sound, one without. Eventually, Britain matched the pace of conversion in America, with well over half of theaters becoming sound-equipped by the end of 1930. In France, on the other hand, a majority of venues were still fully silent in late 1932.

(A) is incorrect. It is true that the showing in Germany was different because it had original music, but we don’t have information to tell us that it received greater praise.

(B) is incorrect. “Edmund Meisel” is the name of the composer; he wrote the music, but he didn’t help write the movie.

(C) is incorrect because the passage does not tell us that the music was “recorded.”

(D) is correct. We know that it was “original music to go along” with the movie, and we learn that it was for when the movie “first played.” That means that it was the “premier,” or the first performance, of the music.
(A) is incorrect. It might seem logical that people just didn’t want things to change, but we don’t have information in the paragraph to support this idea.

(B) is correct! The sentence tells us that “poor quality recording” made people skeptical. That means the early attempts produced poor results.

(C) is incorrect for the same reasons as (A).

(D) is incorrect because there is no evidence that sound didn’t have financial support, even if it seems logical that it might not because it wasn’t popular.
First, we should find where this film is mentioned in the passage:

But other major studios were rather slow to join the movement. Warner Bros. released three more successful feature-length talkies in the following year, and it wasn’t until September 1928 that another studio – Paramount – brought out its own sound film: Beggars of Life.

So, what is significant about this movie? “It wasn’t until” means “it didn’t happen until” for some kind of surprising fact.

(A) is incorrect because, in fact, The Jazz Singer used sound-on-disc technology before Beggars of Life.

(B) is incorrect. After this movie is first mentioned, we later see that virtually all theaters were retrofitted for sound, but we don’t have evidence to say that the movie prompted that.

(C) is incorrect. Nothing tells us this fact either.
This statement is FALSE because it makes an incorrect cause-effect situation. Filmmakers made two versions because theaters were slow to convert, not the other way around.
Early mainstream filmmakers did not listen to the public's demand for sound films. People at that time believed that sound films would fade soon, but filmmakers continue to experiment with adding sounds to films.
 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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