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Fiddlehead Fern

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Everything posted by Fiddlehead Fern

  1. I'm guilty of making faces when I play. My "concertina face" is quite often a blank stare of unfocused intensity at some random object. Late summer I met a fellow English concertina player, which resulted in my running to the car to fetch the box and then swap it back and forth as we played a few tunes, lots of fun but I was a little nervous as I'd never played my concertina in front of any other concertinists yet.....no pressure of course and there were plenty of others loitering around so I was concentrating on what my fingers where doing. After I finished my piece Don made a comment about how I had the "concertina player look" that has been recorded so many times. Years of playing the violin has taught me to clamp my jaw shut though, so I've never had to worry about drooling! My "fiddle" face however is something slightly different, I apparently make unpleasant faces when I don't get something as perfect as I'd like. When I was preparing for a recital my violin teacher was constantly harping on me to "just smile, you look like you're in mortal agony!" and "If you didn't make such ghastly faces no one else would realize that you made a mistake!" Ah well.
  2. I said it one other time on these forums: I play because I'm not suicidal. It goes further though, there's nothing close to being able to play music, even just by yourself in the evenings and being able to create something to enjoy for a moment that can change the way you look at things for a moment, while it lasts. At least, it's that way for me, I dunno about anyone else. So, personal enjoyment although proving something to myself has never been something I've ever thought to really associate with music. Perhaps in the music I choose to listen to, perhaps to some extent the music I choose to play, but never the actual playing of it. Maybe it's because I don't find the actual making of sound difficult, only the technique and challenging music, I don't know. At the risk of being universally hated I'll admit that I don't remember any real difficulty feeling unnatural while making noises on violin (fiddle), singing or, when I got there, the concertina. It was challenging and frustrating to some extent, yes, but it always seemed (and seems) the perfectly natural thing to do. To please others? Yes, I suppose so to some extent. As a little kid I made noise (usually by humming and singing) whenever I was happy--playing with my trolls (those little plastic figures with crazy colored hair-I loved them!), or my dolls (I loved those too), or reading (alone in my room I still sing when I'm reading without music on), running around outside or sitting perched in trees watching the woods and animal life, building forts or simply in the company of people I liked. One vivid (and recent) memory is of myself, age 12, after going out to eat somewhere (a treat) in the car on our way back I just started humming because it was a way of thanking my friends. Of course, I've realized now that some people find it annoying, but it's still my quickest response to start making noise when I'm happy, or when I want to thank someone and I don't have words. However, I don't require an audience, most of the time I play by myself with no one around. Of course, I like it when people enjoy the music I play, and I try to play for them when I can and I know they enjoy'll it because it's still one of the easiest ways for me to express that I'm content. It's also nice to be part of a huge community of musicians, whether or not I speak the same language, play the same kind of music or instrument or even know that their brand of music even exists it's still nice to know that there's some sort of a connection to these people all around the world. One time at a Smithsonian Folklife festival there was a group of Chinese musicians who spoke no English but we were able to completely understand what they were trying to tell us when my mom was asking questions about some of the instruments. It resulted in an impromptu jam session and huge grins all around. At the end of the day they spotted us walking back to the car and waved happily, I'll never forget how amazing it was to be able to make friends through sharing music. So, a long winded answer to a short question. Sorry 'bout that!
  3. Climbing tree? Yuk! (I'm so afraid of heights; to a positively phobic degree). An interest in history and a love of the elegance of Tall Ships, playing concertina and a fascination with 'real' castles are all things dear to my heart. Half an hour from me I have this and this. Enlarge that circle to an hour and I'd be spoilt for choice. Afraid of heights but interested in tall ships? Hmm. One of the most exciting moments of my existence so far was last year (was it that long ago already?!) when I found myself, oh, maybe 50' above the deck of the ship I was beginning to understand with my face pressed into the futtock shrouds waiting for my turn to go onto the roundtop. The rigging looked disconcertingly different from up there, and I was nervously contemplating how I was going to haul myself up without looking like a total idiot. All the while reminding myself that I really, really, REALLY wanted to be there! Of course, I'm hoping this summer to go on another ship with a rig height of 120'.......eep! Just, you know, thought I'd share that with a fell ship enthusiast. Gotta brag now and then. Those castles are beautiful! I always grin when I hear of Kent, England since that's my dad's name. Or the Duke of Kent waltz, which I learned on the concertina the other day (in keeping with the general theme of these forums).
  4. You have a castle down the road from you. *faintly* A real castle, like a big huge imposing stone building they talk about in fairy tales. Wow. Yes, I'm an American who has never actually seen a real castle, much less lived down the road from one and climbed the walls for fun. I plan to see one someday though. Here I thought it was pretty cool that I lived on a creek where we find all manner of pottery shards and a cannonball once and have a tree that was used as a landmark during the Civil War......oh well.
  5. I'm surprised how many people seem to think that people are hiding behind false names and being more rude because of it. My reason for not revealing my full name is because I'm a minor and as highly as I think of you all I don't use my full name on the internet ever. Let me stress that it's not because of any of you, it's because anyone in the world with an internet connection can see what I write here or on the other forums I frequent and I'm not entirely comfortable about the fact that they may be able to find the small town I live in and track me down. Not entirely plausible, I know, but possible. And no, in case you were wondering I'm not a criminal on the run. Another reason is that my full name doesn't really tell anyone much about myself. I chose "Fiddlehead Fern" because, for one, I play the fiddle and my first name is Fern. Also, since I'm relatively young and a musician I like the metaphor of a fern unfolding, in other words, hopefully I'll get better at my playing someday! That's why you know me by this name here; it alludes to my real first name, it describes who I am as a musician and indicates to some extent (in my mind at least) where I want to go eventually. Of course, if anyone already knows me they would probably be able to tell who I was pretty easily, after all how many 16 year old girls play concertina and are interested in 17th and 18th century history and tall ships along with a talent for climbing trees?!
  6. Know what you mean, but you will learn to deal. I hate watching something supposedly set in the middle ages or earlier and seeing the wrong breed of sheep for the area or a squash--an american fruit-- sitting out in the open. Those types of errors drive me crazy. Then I remember it is just Hollywood (or the equivalent working towards the same lowest common denominator that the are from themselves and let it go. And remember, Pirates is just a fantasy, not even trying for historical accuracy. Alan I know, and believe it or not I can enjoy movies even though my first instinct is to watch them through a microscope. I can even usually restrain myself from picking too much unless my friends particularly ask about a part they weren't sure about.....ah well. I'm not sure I could tell the breeds of sheep from one area and time period to the other though, that's impressive. I'll have to work harder in the future!
  7. Oh dear. I found another movie with a concertina the other day: High Society from 1956 with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. There's one scene with Bing Crosby "playing" an anglo concertina on board a sailboat. The whole movie was rather...interesting....but that scene was a little more painful than some others. The whole time one is left to wonder "How in the world is he playing a melody without moving his fingers at all and pumping the bellows with no discernible co-ordination with the music? Wait, that doesn't even sound like a concertina.....that sounds like an accordion....!" At least it had been invented by that time. In Pirates of the Caribbean there's a few times they show a concertina....hmm, while one is never entirely sure what time period they're supposed to be I think I can safely say they are before the 1850s. They took a lot of liberties though, this not by far the least. Then again, I've probably just shown myself to be a fussy history geek who spends too much time watching movies!
  8. I read music, and it takes me (nowadays) about the same amount of time to learn something by "dots" or by ear. I generally hear a song I like and then try to find it again. Once I find it, I listen to it constantly and drill it into my brain until I can hum it, sing it, beat it out on pots and pans while I'm doing the dishes and sing it in my sleep. Around this time I start attempting it on either the fiddle or concertina, and eventually it emerges, shining and radiant and ready to be fully worked over until I can get something I like and will allow others to hear. After that, I'll play forever. That's one way that music sometimes gets from a recording to my fingers via the brain. Other times it's a lot less predictable, like when I sit down with the said fiddle or concertina and start goofing off (usually while avoiding schoolwork). I'll play a bit here, doodle a bit there, make funky noises and eventually come to realize that the song I'm playing is not due to my compositional genius (of which I have none), but that it's actually a real song. The hunt then begins, with me racking my feeble mind to remember where I heard the song so I can find it again and make sure I'm getting it right. A few torturous days follow in which the song haunts me and I try desperately to figure out where I heard it. Eventually I find it again, tweak a bit and then get to work some more on the song until I know I can play it and have the confidence to play it for others. I envy people who can go to a session and immediately play along with anything, learn the tune immediately and start improvising harmonies on the spot. I rarely get to sessions (maybe a handful a year), so I've never really had the chance to learn how to do that. I'm not entirely sure that I could anyway.....but one can dream. Actually one of the reasons I wanted to get a concertina was so that I could start learning more about chords and progress to accompanying myself. (It never occurred to get myself a guitar, since there always seem to be plenty guitarists around if they're needed. Silly me!) However, I've gone the easy route and haven't made much progress in that quarter save for about two pieces that I've figured out a way to make sound better by adding chords, for which I am very proud of myself. Hopefully this makes sense and was on topic, it ended up a little longer that I expected. Hmm, for some reason my thoughts always seem to take up more space when they're written down.
  9. Oh my, taking things handed to you and talking while playing music....what fun. I don't think anyone's ever tried to hand me something while I was playing, but I've been asked questions and actually had answers expected of me at that instant (who knew?). Maybe people have never tried to hand me something when I was playing fiddle because they noticed that I had something in each hand. However, they might have been mislead if they ever caught me when I had a horrible itch or a hair in my face that I had to move and so adjusted it quickly with my left hand when I had a long open note that I could just hold for long enough to take care of business. However, the time there is fractions of a second, doing anything more would be nigh impossible. To me, at least.... As far as talking while playing, ooh, it doesn't work for me. I can read a magazine propped up on a music stand and understand what I'm reading and not miss notes, that's not hard at all (when a kid is a total bookworm and has to practice, these things happen, and yes, I know I'm a sad excuse for a human). But as soon as I try to say something it all falls apart; I miss notes, try to get them back, miss more in the process and, alas, all is lost. I've tried numerous times, but never really managed to get it. Maybe someday, I'll keep trying, if nothing else it's amusing I suppose. If I'm at a session I usually let the other players decide when it's time to switch or stop, since I'm so incompetent at it. Subtlety is good, but if all else fails a panicked look to someone else who can stop the hurtling steam locomotive you've set in motion usually works nicely as emergency brakes too. *sigh* I guess I'll go practice now....
  10. I have sweaty hands, so I'm washing my hands all the time. If I can't for some reason can't get to a sink or other water, I'm constantly wiping my hands on whatever absorbent surface I have within reach (usually my jeans). Eating something and then not being able to wash my hands is exquisite torture. I try to refrain from touching things unless I know my hands are clean, mostly dry and the contact won't mess up the item in question. It's a pain, but I don't get serious cracks in the winter, so I guess that's good. I'll join the obsessive compulsive hand washing club, I think I qualify! As far as other people (children or otherwise) touching my musical instruments; I make them conform to the same standards I hold for myself before handing them over. I had a young friend (10 years old) who was very interested in my concertina as soon as she saw it. I sent her to wash her hands and we sat down to play it. She made considerable progress that week; from not having any musical knowledge or experience she went to learning several easy tunes and scales as well as a basic understanding of intervals and how to read music, not to mention leaps and bounds on the actual playing of an instrument she'd never been exposed to before. The entire time I had no reason to be worried when she was using the concertina, she asked me whenever she wanted to play (so much that I eventually just told her to go fetch the case herself and get it out, thanks for asking), she was careful when putting it in or taking it out of the case, made sure she held it properly and securely, always pressed a button when she moved the bellows and never jerked them, put it away if she had to leave it for more than a few minutes, made sure her hands were as clean as she could get them (no easy task either, we were camping without access to running water) and was always mindful of the conditions around her when she was playing. On the other hand, I have a cousin who is also ten years old. I'm sure that if he had more positive attention and was taught to respect other people (and other people's things) he'd do just as well. However, as it is I lock up my instruments (and iPod, phone, journal, notebook and anything else I value) when he shows up. If I'm playing and he's there I keep the instrument with me if I stop for a few minutes, if he comes near me I fend him off by strategically positioning myself around study pieces of furniture. Or I put it away and lock the case. I'm more cautious about letting people use my violin than I am about the concertina, they seem a little more breakable and are harder to snatch away if the need arises. I do swap around with my friends who play sometimes, just for the fun of it. I also have often found myself playing on a borrowed fiddle when I happened to bump into a friend who's playing and I don't have mine with me, for this reason I try to be generous myself and let others use mine in similar situations, the golden rule and all.
  11. Another Hornblower fan, I see!

    The 18th century is my favorite as well, especially the 1750s.

    It's fun to hear about your progress in learning about music, keep it up and good luck!

  12. I've never really had a problem with learning tunes and having them stick, for me it happens automatically. Especially when it's a tune I like and that isn't too hard for me; by which I mean that I can hear it in my head and it relates to other tunes I know already, not by technical difficulty. Technically challenging pieces I can memorize as well with relative ease, provided I like them and play them enough. I've found that most tunes that I learn by "dots" I can work on for about 45 min. and I'm done. By the time I have gotten the song to the desired speed and played it at that rate at least 5 times, I have it completely memorized. If it's something that I play fairly regularly (every day to once or twice a year, in some cases) it's likely to stay in my head for some time, all I have to do is be reminded that it's in there and that I should dust it off and play it now and then. Of course, I still play with it and change it around some, in that case I'm never "done" with a tune. I just mean that I know basically how it goes and can play it competently. I don't learn as much by ear, although I can do it. On average it takes me longer to fully get a piece when I don't have the music in front of me. If I do learn something by ear, it's off CDs that I can listen to over and over again, I'm not anywhere near fast enough to pick something up from a session or something I hear only a few times. (I might be able to reconstruct it if I can find other fragments, but I can't pay it right off.) I can't make things up on the spot, either. Faking a tune and playing drones or a simple ad lib harmony is something that I cannot do. I haven't ever learned, or had the chance to try it out as I get rather few chances to play with anyone besides myself. the tunes I do learn by ear stay pretty firmly stuck to my brain, as far as I can remember I've never forgotten how one goes that I've learned that way. (The only tune I can remember totally blanking out on for any amount of time was College Hornpipe, which I simply could not figure out how to play, so I got out the music. After that it came back no problem, but it was a quite unsettling experience.) I can remember tunes, but don't expect me to remember whether my iPod is charged, where my shoes are, whether someone called and left a message, what so-and-so's name is or where I put my sweater...oh, there it is, I was wearing it...... I forget everything. Heaven help me when I get older, I'm senile already!
  13. Playing in the dark or in limited light is perfectly fine, I don't generally need to see what I'm doing anyway. An amusing time that comes to mind was when I was sitting around idly playing my fiddle at my grandparents house. Mom and Grandma were chatting and not really paying me much heed which was perfectly fine to me, untill all of a sudden Grandma says in a shosked voice, "she's got her eyes closed!" Of course, the effect of this statement caused my eyes to fly open and the notes that had heretofore been pouring nonchalantly out of the instrument to come to an abrupt halt. "How do you see what you're doing?" She asked incredulously. "I don't." was the reply. "I just know where my fingers are supposed to go, I guess." she sat for a few minutes and stared at me. 'Do it again. Play something with your eyes closed." (I did) "Oh. That's amazing." She then continued her conversation with Mom. Well! I didn't know I was amazing! The same sort of thing happened when I showed her my concertina. After admiring it for a few moments I was asked to play. I sat down and started on a tune. After finishing, she clapped politely and said that she liked how it sounded, etc., but how in the world could I see the buttons, as I was staring rather vaguely into space? Another explanation ensued, after all, the buttons all look the same anyway! I get more confused when I try to look than when I don't. I generally end up staring at my shoes with an odd expression on my face...my violin teacher is constantly telling me to smile because I look like I'm not enjoying myself in the least (I am) and that the faces I make when I hit a wrong note are amusing but unnecessary.
  14. Watching A Christmas Carol the other night (the version with George C. Scott as Scrooge) I noticed again that there is a concertina (anglo) in the beginning, playing along with a group of children singing the Sussex Carol (On Christmas night all Christians sing/to hear the news the angels bring......). I love that movie, I always feel like crying at the beginning, for entirely selfish reasons: I was born in the wrong century. Well, it could have been the right century, but I was born at the wrong end of it. *sigh* I guess I'm glad that I live in a world with indoor plumbing, computers and cell phones, but still........
  15. Maybe we can have a "virtual" one. My last "real" one was up a mountain, in Austria, on the 1st June 1984, when you were ....... Since then, I have lobbed one at a Police car; the occupants were not impressed! I was looking at a video on the BBC news site, this morning. There was snow everywhere "up North", and the kids, large and small, were out on their sledges (sleds for our American cousins). This is something I've always wanted to do. Sadly; there is seldom much snow in this part of England, and it's a bit flat. Did I read that right? You. have. never. gone . sledding.? Wow, sledding is what everyone here does as soon as we have any amount of snow! Of course, living in the foothills helps, as does the fact that I live right next door to a very long and incredibly steep hill that seems to have been made for the sole purpose of sledding down. As far back as I remember winter means waiting for snow and then going out sledding. At night is the best, the light is really pretty and blue and you go down the hill at warp speed into nothing but blackness until you're out of the woods and then it's a lattice of shadows; and I'm getting rather carried away, aren't I? Suffice it to say that sledding is great fun, and so is wiping out. Even when the snow has a inch thick rind of ice on top (just that much faster!)--but then you have to know how to fall, else you end up with lots of bruises and cuts....not pleasant. We haven't gotten any snow (worth mentioning) this year yet, but I'm looking forward to some in Wisconsin over Christmas. I talked to my grandma there a little bit ago and she was just getting ready to walk to church......because there was to much snow to drive in. Hmm, but to pull this back (a little) to the reason this forum is here in the first place, the best thing to do after beating the heck out of yourself sledding (and running back up the hill) is to go inside, curl up with a mug of tea/cocoa/cider/other warm beverage at hand and play your concertina.....right?
  16. Whoops, sorry that I double posted that, yesterday I was having internet problems and didn't think my post had gotten through! It's fun reading everyone's ideas on why they play.
  17. How long have I been playing? Violin for 8 years, fiddle for 5, English concertina since April, playing around with lap dulcimer, piano, recorder, practice chanter, and other random noisemakers with varying levels of success; quite a while. Of course, I've been constantly exposed to music for oh, nine months before I was born up to the present day. Why do I play? You can ask me why I breathe, it'll be the same answer. Like Ishtar said, I play because I can't not play. I've had music in my life, in some form, every single moment I've been alive, whether it was my mom practicing the piano before I was born, playing the harp at night when I was a toddler before I went to sleep, going to Community Concerts since I was born, singing along to Spike Jones while I vacuum the house, breaking the toy violin trying to play it, learning how to play a real violin, discovering that I could play any sort of music I wanted to so long as I could read the music--even if the score said it was for another instrument, listening to my friends play music in the evenings at living history events and having a wonderful time at it, having iPod earbuds constantly glued to my head, teaching myself the concertina, or simply singing for the joy of it. When I was younger (and even up to age 11 or so) when I was happy and wanted to thank someone or simply show my appreciation for their company the most natural thing for me to do was start humming, I've stopped that now, since it often gets misinterpreted as not paying attention or being disrespectful, but I still sing in my head. Why do I keep playing? Because I'm not suicidal.
  18. I'm currently listening to "The Star of Sunday's Well" sung by Donal Maguire, on his CD by the same name. I got it last night after a workshop he gave. I always have multiple songs stuck in my head, chasing each other around and driving me crazy[er].....lately it's been an odd mixture of Simon and Garfunkel, Whiskey before Breakfast, Cold Frosty morning (we've been getting a lot of them lately, brr!), and others. Don't talk to me about having hornpipes stuck in one's head..........after three days of nonstop Red-haired Boy ringing in my scull I was thoroughly relieved when it was (finally) replaced by something else! Despite that unfortunate experience, I still love the tune, I just treat it with caution! I'm so lazy, I'm not really working on anything for the concertina right now.....how bad is that?! I'm doing some work for my violin lessons, and picking up verses and snippets of songs here and there as always, but not putting any concentrated effort into anything in particular.......although I'm going to have to look up "My Bonnie Light Horseman", I have a few scraps of it rattling around in my noggin, and it's going to get annoying soon. Maybe after this week I'll get my act together again.....concert and whacked out schedule, ack!
  19. I recently (a few weeks ago) watched "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" from A&E/BBC, and there were quite a few concertinas shown.....along a cameo appearance of a serpent! Several of the characters (background musicians) played Anglos, but the hero played an English--I just KNEW he was a good guy! The dubbing was rather painful though. Not quite as bad as I've seen before, but close. Apparently the concertina is easier to appear to play than the violin is. Yes, Gaelic Storm was in the Titanic.....I've never seen that movie, but I have been to see the band a few times. Oh my gosh--the musical equivalent of caffeine, let me tell you.
  20. Hmm, this thread looks like it'll get quite interesting. So, who was the other 11-16 year old? As far as "other" for a gender choice, perhaps we should ask Ms. LDT about that one......... Hmm, I'm seeing another poll asking age, gender and what gender you believe you concertina to be......or perhaps we shouldn't go there.
  21. Not sure I'm entirely clear on what this thread is about....it seems to be a discussion on ages. and soggy bread, which is a more than a little unappetizing. However, I do think I'll go help myself to some of the wonderful bread that my Mom baked today. She's called the Bread Lady, and for good reason! Yum! Drat, now I'm all hungry. Anyway, ages; from what I can tell LDT and I seem to be the youngest regular posters......she at 22, and me at 16. Hmm. I must say though, as nice as you all are it's been quite fun having another girl close-ish (relatively) to my age on these forums! I've found posts by younger members, but only a few and not very often or consistently.
  22. you know that makes me feel really young....at 22..so I've got 40 years playing ahead of me before I can keep up with the threads round here? Same here, and you've got six years on me! I can usually manage though, somehow. I have in my room: Two violins, One English concertina, One lap dulcimer (aka Appalachian dulcimer), One practice chanter and a few cheap recorders and whistles lurking on the bookshelves (none of which I can play at all, much less satisfactorily). I really only play the fiddle(s) and concertina regularly and with any skill, the dulcimer I adore, but play "very ill" indeed. I mostly use it for playing around for fun, but not making any decent music on. The house is filled to the brim (one could reasonably argue over the brim, in fact) with even more musical instruments that you can even imagine shaking a stick at. Including, yes, several bodhrans hanging on the wall! Some of which I've attempted, but never with enough success to make note of.
  23. I just practice in my room-fiddle concertina, singing, loud music, whatever. Of course, I live in the middle of nowhere, and my room is seperate from the house....... oh well, no advice. Try quieter, that would probably work, and there are recent thread about how to do that.
  24. ...and just where did you stuff the socks, if I may ask? I once had to play the violin very quietly off stage at a theatre production. I was "Einstein" in D├╝rrenmatt's "The Physicists", and in the final scene I had to juggle with violin, bow and a revolver Anyway, not possessing a mute, I used wooden clothes pegs. One, two or three, depending on the degree of quietness required, clipped to the bridge in the gaps between the strings. The drawback with the free reeds is that the sound can't be muted at the source - you can only try to contain the sound once it's got out of the concertina. Cheers, John The sound holes, of course! It resulted in a rather stuffed up sound (gee, I wonder why?!), but it worked quite well. The clothespin idea sounds good too, unfortunately I didn't have access to any of them (that I knew of, anyway). A violin, bow and revolver, eh? What a combination! "Why do people shudder when someone carrying a viola case walk into the room?" "Because they're afraid he has a viola and will use it!" (Profound apologies to viola players, I like that instrument, really!)
  25. Probably easier and closer to hand, how about putting your concertina in a sweat shirt and playing it with your hands up the sleeves. If it's really heavy duty muting you're after, try a duffle coat I used two sweatshirts wrapped around my EC to deaden the sound one time, and it worked quite well, as a matter of fact. Note though, that I had two and both were doubled a few times, else it probably wouldn't have softened the sound much at all. I used it one night at my grandparents when I had a song stuck in my head and HAD to play, just for a little bit and didn't want it to be too loud, after all, it was rather late at night, I was downstairs, the screens were open and I didn't need the neighbors complaining. A few days later I wanted to play my fiddle a bit before going somewhere, and I had to be as quiet as possible, Not having a mute at my disposal I took my fiddle and a pair of socks (ankle length, clean) into the furnace room with me......resulting in slightly less bowing room, an instrument that suddenly sounded like a horribly cheap piece of junk (it's not) and worn out arms. But I didn't make too much noise!!!
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