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#37 m3838

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 07:56 PM

A hurdy-gurdy may be much more ancient machine, but nobody expects virtuosity from players. Their niche is to provide the background fill or rhythm.

Not the ones I've heard.

You've heard what? That the virtuosity is expected from hurdy-gurdy players? Or you just heard very good playing?
I'm not arguing that good players exist, I'm arguing that Hurdy-Gurdy (or Concertina) virtuosity is a bonus, that everybody is glad to meet.

But now I approach the issue of concertina virtuosos from a cold-hearted perspective... statistics! :ph34r:[indent=1]If among players, virtuosos are one in a million.


That's actually is exactly the subject of this sub-discussion: that (arguably) Concertina virtuoso is not in the same camp with piano virtuoso, but rather in a camp of ordinary conservatory graduate at best.

#38 njurkowski

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 08:09 PM

A hurdy-gurdy may be much more ancient machine, but nobody expects virtuosity from players. Their niche is to provide the background fill or rhythm.

Not the ones I've heard. They have their drones and also a rhythm capability, but the ones I've heard always played melody and/or harmony, too. And after hearing a pair of young ladies in France playing for dancing in the wee hours of the morning, I would call them virtuosos. Maybe not technical virtuosos in the Prokofiev style, but certainly virtuosos of the soul. Their arrangements and their sound thrilled me!


There are tons of very important kinds of musical skill - Berlioz hardly played any instruments at all (just the guitar, if I remember correctly, and he was hardly a virtuoso), but he's widely regarded as one of the finest orchestrators who ever lived - the treatise he wrote on it is still often quoted (and he even wrote about concertinas in it!) I don't want to be understood as saying that technical virtuosos are the personification of the highest form of music; I don't believe that at all, and think at times it can be rather the opposite. They just serve an important role in music's (and probably more particularly, an instrument's) development.

But now I approach the issue of concertina virtuosos from a cold-hearted perspective... statistics! :ph34r:

If among players, virtuosos are one in a million. And if there are 500 thousand concertina players in the world. Then there's only half a chance that there will be even a single concertina virtuoso anywhere in the world.

Of course, if there are fewer than half a million concertina players all together, then the chances get proportionately worse.

But what are the odds, really? Well, how many piano (or violin) players are there in the world, and how many piano (or violin) virtuosos? Maybe one in a million is too high? :unsure:


Yeah, that's tough to say. I really have no data at all on the occurrence of "true" virtuosos (however we want to define that), but I would say the technical standards of a more common instrument are generally higher. Of course you get a lot on the other end of the spectrum as well (how many guitarists have you heard that can only play three chords?) Assuming that the capacity to be a child-prodigy-type virtuoso is inborn, there will be more of them on "popular" instruments, since that's what there is available and that's where they'll be steered - which is a shame in a way.

Didn't one of the astronauts take a harmonica up to the space station?
He wouldn't actually have been playing it in a vacuum, of course, but close.

Very close.

Maybe even less than a meter away. :D


What can I say, you've got me there :rolleyes:

#39 m3838

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 08:42 PM

Well, if you noticed, I refuted at least six of your seven points, so I don't think that your argument stands, even by your own criteria.



Which ones did you refute?
Are you stating that:
1. Good observation of the keys is of no importance?
2. Access to the keys is of no importance? Your refutal dealt with difference between systems, but I only meant the "equal access to all the keys". Concertinas have inherent problem with access to some keys. Often chording on English concertina require pushing two-three buttons with the same finger, and often some chords are unaccessable. Anglo has problems with inner row, very high and very low tones. Duets may have buttons too far or too close to the palm rest.
Some notes are easier to reach than others. On Piano all keys are equally accessible.
Either you prove that equal access to all keys is of no importance, or my argument stands.
3.Sounding the note on a piano is difficult?
Piano (and guitar) has naturally decaying tone, that doesn't need any effort to sustain or decay. It's pretty by itself, and blends well with harmony. Are you arguing that? Concertina tone needs to be sustained at all times, which occupies the fingers and bellows - any argument here? So on a piano one can use pedal to sustain some notes, while using hands to throw in additional harmony - no argument? Therefore playing music at the (teoretically) same level of difficulty is more difficult on Concertina as it takes more action, more finger twisting and often simply impossible. If you prove that on concertina you can play more complex harmonies, while still playing melody or counter-harmony - you refuted my argument, if not, my argument stands.
4.Are you arguing that missing notes in the scale is of no importance?
Or that irregular, often simply arbitrary placement of the tones, that are missing from their regular position in the row is of no importance? That wrapping the low and high ends of small Duets is of no importance? We are not considering any particular system, but rather Concertina in general. They all share many common qualities, and have similar benefits and shortcomings of the keyboards, stemming from their small size and fixed wrist.
Your "refutal" that knowing the keyboard makes regularity irrelevant is light-weight, because you enter into true mayhem, when you try to play chord inversions on an Anglo. Even English requires some specific skills to play some inversions, like this position:
O
		  O
   O
		  O
Many chords are simply impossible on Concertina of any system. Any arguments here?
5.Easiness of controlling pitch and dynamics.
Nowhere I said it is easy to control pitch and dynamics on the piano or concertinal I state it is easier on the piano. You didn't address important point of having to control pitch and dynamics on Concertina by two very different, often interrupting each other actions: depressing the buttons and pulling/pushing the bellows. Are you arguing that doing two things at once is easier than one?
6.The weight of the instrument.
Are you arguing that posture and balance while playing concertina is of lesser importance than with the piano?
7. Clear indication of the keys.
Very characteristic type of concertina with poor indication of the keys is the Bandoneon. Next comes the Anglo, esp. 30+ buttons. Whether you are familiar or not with the keyboard, clear indication of the keys, regardless of keyboard regularity, is a plus. Any keyboard where you don't see the keys, esp. where the keys have no tangible indication (like black keys of the piano) posesses a problem of navigating. The more rows you have, the more chance you have to get lost, regardless of your profficiency. Are you arguing that clear indication of the keys is of no importance?


My argument is not that it is easy-peasy to learn to play piano, but rather that a myth that concertina is easy to pick up is a myth. And for that reason, realized or not, most children learn music on the piano, not hurdy-gurdy. Is there one conservatory, where various instrumentalists are not required to take piano as a second instrument?

#40 njurkowski

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 09:46 PM

Well, if you noticed, I refuted at least six of your seven points, so I don't think that your argument stands, even by your own criteria.



Which ones did you refute?
Are you stating that:
1. Good observation of the keys is of no importance?

What I said was that under practical conditions, it is as equally impossible to pay attention to the keys on the piano while you are playing as it is to pay attention to the keys on a concertina when playing. When reading music, you will not be able to look at the keys. therefore, your argument holds no weight.

2. Access to the keys is of no importance? Your refutal dealt with difference between systems, but I only meant the "equal access to all the keys". Concertinas have inherent problem with access to some keys. Often chording on English concertina require pushing two-three buttons with the same finger, and often some chords are unaccessable. Anglo has problems with inner row, very high and very low tones. Duets may have buttons too far or too close to the palm rest.
Some notes are easier to reach than others. On Piano all keys are equally accessible.
Either you prove that equal access to all keys is of no importance, or my argument stands.



I don't believe this, at least for the English concertina, which is what I am basing my argument on as it is most familiar to me. There are no triads on the English concertina that require pushing two keys with one finger, and just simply pushing two adjacent buttons with one finger does not mean that it is more difficult. The situation to piano is quite analogous: the keyboard appears to be based around the key of C. Playing in other keys requires an adjustment.

3.Sounding the note on a piano is difficult?
Piano (and guitar) has naturally decaying tone, that doesn't need any effort to sustain or decay. It's pretty by itself, and blends well with harmony. Are you arguing that? Concertina tone needs to be sustained at all times, which occupies the fingers and bellows - any argument here? So on a piano one can use pedal to sustain some notes, while using hands to throw in additional harmony - no argument? Therefore playing music at the (teoretically) same level of difficulty is more difficult on Concertina as it takes more action, more finger twisting and often simply impossible. If you prove that on concertina you can play more complex harmonies, while still playing melody or counter-harmony - you refuted my argument, if not, my argument stands.


You are 100% wrong on this. Playing the piano is far more than just hitting a note - there is technique to it. To play it on a basic level, you can simply hit a note, but, then you can do that for the concertina too. Non-pianists frequently take this like this for granted.

4.Are you arguing that missing notes in the scale is of no importance?
Or that irregular, often simply arbitrary placement of the tones, that are missing from their regular position in the row is of no importance? That wrapping the low and high ends of small Duets is of no importance? We are not considering any particular system, but rather Concertina in general. They all share many common qualities, and have similar benefits and shortcomings of the keyboards, stemming from their small size and fixed wrist.
Your "refutal" that knowing the keyboard makes regularity irrelevant is light-weight, because you enter into true mayhem, when you try to play chord inversions on an Anglo. Even English requires some specific skills to play some inversions, like this position:

O
		  O
   O
		  O
Many chords are simply impossible on Concertina of any system. Any arguments here?

From your arguments, I get the feeling that you have minimal piano experience. First of all, while there are perhaps chords that are playable on the piano which aren't on the concertina, there are several chords on the piano that are unplayable which are perfectly playable on any concertina (thinking generally of chords that extend many octaves).
The English has no gaps in its scale - it even has doubles of notes, while on the piano, you only get one! The piano requires many different fingerings depending on what scale you are playing, just as and English concertina requires that you use different fingers to play scales in different keys. As long as the system is logically consistent, I don't see one as having an advantage over another.

5.Easiness of controlling pitch and dynamics.
Nowhere I said it is easy to control pitch and dynamics on the piano or concertinal I state it is easier on the piano. You didn't address important point of having to control pitch and dynamics on Concertina by two very different, often interrupting each other actions: depressing the buttons and pulling/pushing the bellows. Are you arguing that doing two things at once is easier than one?


This is a dead giveway that you aren't a pianist. The instant decay makes it very difficult to crescendo through a phrase cleanly, without making individual notes stand out. The bellows offers far more direct control of dynamics - unless you have extensive experience with both, you would not understand this fact. Because the bellows is so intimately connected with the music you are playing, it offers more control and is easier.

6.The weight of the instrument.
Are you arguing that posture and balance while playing concertina is of lesser importance than with the piano?



In essence, yes. The piano is much more of a full body activity, and so balance as posture are more difficult, and also more important in playing with a good technique. This is not to say that posture and balance aren't important on the concertina; they are. It's just that when you're using your torso, shoulders, hands, and fingers, proper posture is more difficult.

7. Clear indication of the keys.
Very characteristic type of concertina with poor indication of the keys is the Bandoneon. Next comes the Anglo, esp. 30+ buttons. Whether you are familiar or not with the keyboard, clear indication of the keys, regardless of keyboard regularity, is a plus. Any keyboard where you don't see the keys, esp. where the keys have no tangible indication (like black keys of the piano) posesses a problem of navigating. The more rows you have, the more chance you have to get lost, regardless of your profficiency. Are you arguing that clear indication of the keys is of no importance?



No importance? No. But minimal. As long as the keys are organized in some system, it isn't a problem, since as I mentioned above, you can't concentrate on your fingers and read music at the same time.

My argument is not that it is easy-peasy to learn to play piano, but rather that a myth that concertina is easy to pick up is a myth. And for that reason, realized or not, most children learn music on the piano, not hurdy-gurdy. Is there one conservatory, where various instrumentalists are not required to take piano as a second instrument?


Most children learn the piano because you can do more with it harmonically and it gives a good grounding for any future musical endeavor, not because it is easy! The hurdy girdy doesn't fill the same role. I agree that the concertina is not "easy," but there is no way I'm going to concede that it is inherently harder than the piano.

The argument based on technical considerations is moot anyway, for reasons I've already detailed.

#41 m3838

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 10:03 PM

Most children learn the piano because you can do more with it harmonically and it gives a good grounding for any future musical endeavor, not because it is easy! The hurdy girdy doesn't fill the same role. I agree that the concertina is not "easy," but there is no way I'm going to concede that it is inherently harder than the piano.

The argument based on technical considerations is moot anyway, for reasons I've already detailed.


OK, I give up. This argument becomes boring for the rest.

#42 RiverHamble

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 03:41 AM

I would like to thank everyone for their....er.... interesting and...um.....informative answers to my post.

I had a good practice yesterday and I can now almost play the Winster(sp?) Gallop almost all the way through with only minor mistakes.

I find that I learn better if I play the whole tune several times all the way through and then move on to another one rather than to play a couple of bars till they are perfect and then learn the next couple. But each to their own I reckon.

Ultimately practice practice practice is the answer how ever it works for people.

#43 JimLucas

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 03:50 AM

A hurdy-gurdy may be much more ancient machine, but nobody expects virtuosity from players. Their niche is to provide the background fill or rhythm.

Not the ones I've heard.

You've heard what? That the virtuosity is expected from hurdy-gurdy players? Or you just heard very good playing?

I thought I was pretty clear in the following part of what I said, which you "conveniently" didn't quote. What I said was,

They have their drones and also a rhythm capability, but the ones I've heard always played melody and/or harmony, too.

Since you apparently didn't understand, I'll elaborate:

None of the many hurdy-gurdy players I've heard has only or even primarily "provide[d] the background fill or rhythm". They have all been either soloists or prominently and primarily "lead" members of their groups.

That observation has nothing to do with virtuosity per se, but was a rebuttal of your demeaning claim about the instrument's "niche".

#44 JimLucas

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 03:56 AM

...how many guitarists have you heard that can only play three chords?

If the chords aren't in tune, do they get excluded from the count, or do they count as extras? :D

#45 JimLucas

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 04:15 AM

I find that I learn better if I play the whole tune several times all the way through and then move on to another one rather than to play a couple of bars till they are perfect and then learn the next couple. But each to their own I reckon.

Each to their own, but it's usually helpful to at least experiment with others' methods in developing your own. From what you say, I think you've done that, but let me suggest a couple of variations.
  • I try playing the whole tune through, but if there are particular phrases that give me trouble, then I also practice them 1) in isolation, and then 2) in semi-isolation, i.e., not yet the whole tune, but including the "OK" bits that precede and follow them. That last is because I find that often the trouble is not the phrase itself, but the transitions into and out of the phrase. (Fingering can be an issue here.)
  • As a variation on taking it a bit at a time -- a technique I use when memorizing a piece -- try starting with the last bit, then take the bit just before it, then take both parts together. Progressively add bits on the front, until you have the whole tune. The disadvantage of working front to back is that when you try to put the new, still uncertain part together with what you've already learned, you have the rest of the tune to divert your attention before you suddenly have to deal with the transition to the latest bit. Working back to front, you go straight from the latest bit to the connection between it and the rest of the tune, and only then do you need to pay attention to what you were working on previously.


#46 JimLucas

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 04:35 AM

The situation to piano is quite analogous: the keyboard appears to be based around the key of C. Playing in other keys requires an adjustment.

This is (I hope) a digression from the argument, but a proper piano keyboard is based on two different scales, the diatonic C scale and the chromatic scale. At the front of the keyboard, the white keys (the diatonic C scale) are all of equal width, and therefore equally spaced. At the back of the keyboard, all the keys -- both black and white -- of the chromatic scale are of equal width, and therefore equally spaced.

So if one plays with the fingers always toward the backs of the keys, the spacing of the notes doesn't change in transposing to a different key. However, that's not to say that no adjustment is necessary, since the keys are not all at the same height, and where the "high" ones are in the scale varies from key to key.

Also, few adults have fingers as narrow as the spacing of the keys at the back, so in order to keep from getting the fingers caught on adjacent keys, the white keys are "always" struck on the forward section. And when you do that, the spacing in keys other than C is not equal. Adjustment is necessary.

#47 JimLucas

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 05:19 AM

...while there are perhaps chords that are playable on the piano which aren't on the concertina, there are several chords on the piano that are unplayable which are perfectly playable on any concertina (thinking generally of chords that extend many octaves).

There are also other sorts of chords which are possible on the concertina, but not on the piano. On the concertina it's possible to depress two or even -- with care -- three buttons with a single finger, but yet not adjacent notes in the scale. E.g., with only two fingers I can play C-E-G-B (a C major-7th chord) on an English concertina, and still have the rest of my fingers free for other notes. On a piano, I would need four separate fingers to play those notes, so the "advantage" of also having the thumbs available to play notes is lost in that particular instance. There are many other note combinations which can be formed using this technique on the concertina, not all of them pleasant. :ph34r:

Are you arguing that posture and balance while playing concertina is of lesser importance than with the piano?

In essence, yes. The piano is much more of a full body activity, and so balance as posture are more difficult, and also more important in playing with a good technique. This is not to say that posture and balance aren't important on the concertina; they are. It's just that when you're using your torso, shoulders, hands, and fingers, proper posture is more difficult.

Sorry Nick, but I think you're completely wrong here. Playing the concertina involves the torso, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, even the legs and feet...and them even when not standing, since they affect your sitting posture. Posture is an important concept here, and flexibility is another. If you think that these factors aren't involved in your playing the concertina, then it's a good bet that you're involving them improperly.

#48 fiddlerjoebob

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 08:29 AM

The concertina is cute. The piano...not cute.

r

#49 njurkowski

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 10:47 AM

...while there are perhaps chords that are playable on the piano which aren't on the concertina, there are several chords on the piano that are unplayable which are perfectly playable on any concertina (thinking generally of chords that extend many octaves).

There are also other sorts of chords which are possible on the concertina, but not on the piano. On the concertina it's possible to depress two or even -- with care -- three buttons with a single finger, but yet not adjacent notes in the scale. E.g., with only two fingers I can play C-E-G-B (a C major-7th chord) on an English concertina, and still have the rest of my fingers free for other notes. On a piano, I would need four separate fingers to play those notes, so the "advantage" of also having the thumbs available to play notes is lost in that particular instance. There are many other note combinations which can be formed using this technique on the concertina, not all of them pleasant. :ph34r:

Are you arguing that posture and balance while playing concertina is of lesser importance than with the piano?

In essence, yes. The piano is much more of a full body activity, and so balance as posture are more difficult, and also more important in playing with a good technique. This is not to say that posture and balance aren't important on the concertina; they are. It's just that when you're using your torso, shoulders, hands, and fingers, proper posture is more difficult.

Sorry Nick, but I think you're completely wrong here. Playing the concertina involves the torso, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, even the legs and feet...and them even when not standing, since they affect your sitting posture. Posture is an important concept here, and flexibility is another. If you think that these factors aren't involved in your playing the concertina, then it's a good bet that you're involving them improperly.


You are right, the way I phrased that was wrong - what I meant what that it is on a larger scale on the piano, because of the decentralized nature of the instrument, and it can be tough to manage. I do use my whole upper body playing the concertina, but it isn't quite the same as when you're sitting at a piano.

#50 njurkowski

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 10:54 AM

The situation to piano is quite analogous: the keyboard appears to be based around the key of C. Playing in other keys requires an adjustment.

This is (I hope) a digression from the argument, but a proper piano keyboard is based on two different scales, the diatonic C scale and the chromatic scale. At the front of the keyboard, the white keys (the diatonic C scale) are all of equal width, and therefore equally spaced. At the back of the keyboard, all the keys -- both black and white -- of the chromatic scale are of equal width, and therefore equally spaced.

So if one plays with the fingers always toward the backs of the keys, the spacing of the notes doesn't change in transposing to a different key. However, that's not to say that no adjustment is necessary, since the keys are not all at the same height, and where the "high" ones are in the scale varies from key to key.

Also, few adults have fingers as narrow as the spacing of the keys at the back, so in order to keep from getting the fingers caught on adjacent keys, the white keys are "always" struck on the forward section. And when you do that, the spacing in keys other than C is not equal. Adjustment is necessary.


That's more or less what I was getting at. It's also interesting to note that Chopin argued that the piano keyboard should be thought of as based around B major, because that layout fits the contour of the human hand much better than C (at least for an adult). In practice, the piano keyboard isn't a linear, one dimensional layout - you can constantly sliding in order to switch keys, reach accidentals, or facilitate technical runs.

#51 m3838

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 12:19 PM

I would like to thank everyone for their....er.... interesting and...um.....informative answers to my post.


Anytime :D

I find that I learn better if I play the whole tune several times all the way through and then move on to another one rather than to play a couple of bars till they are perfect and then learn the next couple. But each to their own I reckon.


It's like learning the text or poetry. Some teachers recommend learning the whole thing. It may take longer to learn a chapter, but gives better results sooner in the long run. The problem with this, at least for me, is when you stumble, you have to go back to beginning. Learning by parts helps to mobilize and start from any point. Easier to say, than to do.

#52 m3838

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 12:24 PM

None of the many hurdy-gurdy players I've heard has only or even primarily "provide[d] the background fill or rhythm". They have all been either soloists or prominently and primarily "lead" members of their groups.[/indent]That observation has nothing to do with virtuosity per se, but was a rebuttal of your demeaning claim about the instrument's "niche".


I wasn't very precise with my dancing with words, it seems, and your rebuttal is correct. It has little to do with the premise of "virtuosity", you're right here too.

#53 m3838

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 01:17 PM

the piano keyboard isn't a linear, one dimensional layout - you can constantly sliding in order to switch keys, reach accidentals, or facilitate technical runs.


The linear vs. spacial keyboard concept is not concerned with the lenth of the keys. One can construct piano keyboard with buttons.
Posted Image
There are at least two known 2 dimentional piano based keyboards, Kravtsov
Posted Image
and Uniformed.
Posted Image
Sliding along the key will get you into different tone. Uniformed can be made with 2 to 4 rows.
Jim's description is interesting, but I usually consider piano keyboard as two, one diatonic in the key of C and one pentatonic in the key of :blink: . Both playable on their own. I'm not a pianist, but having older dauther taking piano, and supervising her progress, I practiced her pieces for at least first 3 years, and paid much attention to the teaching methods. Otherwise, I can't play, but I can give advices :D

#54 Pete Dunk

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Posted 12 December 2007 - 01:56 PM

I would like to thank everyone for their....er.... interesting and...um.....informative answers to my post.

I had a good practice yesterday and I can now almost play the Winster(sp?) Gallop almost all the way through with only minor mistakes.

I find that I learn better if I play the whole tune several times all the way through and then move on to another one rather than to play a couple of bars till they are perfect and then learn the next couple. But each to their own I reckon.

Ultimately practice practice practice is the answer how ever it works for people.


Well done, but go back to the tunes regularly and remember to home in on the problem parts of a piece and sort it out. It doesn't do to practice your mistakes!

As to the debate raging in the barely related sub-topic, I would have thought it warranted a thread of its' own by now. :rolleyes:



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