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Many Africans who became aware of their own musical traditions in the colonialcolonialism period and in the post-independence period of the cultural awakening did not undertake serious systematic research. They chose to recollect what theyethnomusicology already knew (e.g., about compositional models of music) or used such African materials as they could find to illustrate some theoretical issues or procedures in the Western tradition that they believed to have universal validity. Others turned to the pedagogical approach, developing courses of study by relying on secondary sources rather than their own original research. Knowledge shared through these approaches may have helped to combat prejudices held against African arts by some of their own colleagues and the Western world. It may also have provided a dimension of the arts that could be missing from the work of the scholar who treats music, for example, as a social or cultural fact, or as an object of formal analysis, and not as an art. However, a better approach is one based on a creative vision, anchored in consciousness of identity, and engaged in systematic documentation, classification and critical evaluation of cultural heritage in a manner that facilitates easy access to the materials and their dissemination.

In: Philosophical Foundations of the African Humanities through Postcolonial Perspectives

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