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Tonality accompanied Europe’s ostensibly civilizing mission to Africa. Christian hymns, choral anthems, and light orchestral music for ballroom dancing were introduced in various locales. These and other accoutrements of musical modernity were built on tonal scaffoldings. Although recent postcolonial criticism has continued to interrogate aspects of Europe’s legacy in Africa—as they affect language, political and educational systems, and culture broadly—the pervasive and lasting impact of functional tonality and the attendant “underdevelopment" of local tonal resources have not received adequate attention. Drawing on musical examples from the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Gabon, Ghana, Benin, and South Africa, this chapter contrasts pre- and postcolonial tonal landscapes in order to highlight some of the challenges that confront composition under a tonal regime. This, then, is in part a celebration of indigenous tonal resources and in part a critique of disciplinary attitudes that remain silent over the erosion of creative potential when populations are forced to speak other people’s musical languages.

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