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Middle row versus Inner row


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Well talking of fiddles...when playing the fiddle you have to use all the fingers of whatever hand you are working the fingerboard with and as such I don't understand this thinking of weak fingers versus strong in the context of playing the concertina.Maybe when you begin to play, indeed any instrument, then maybe certain fingers will be less used to being used but surely as you play, all fingers will become more controllable and if we have to get used to using the little finger all the time for the F# surely it makes sense to get used to using the ring finger equally so leaving one able to press all buttons with equal control.As an interesting aside I was talking to a teacher of the Alexander technique about how I had been struggling with the small finger( which I didn't understand because I had used it when playing fiddle and banjo) and she pointed out that it couldn't be an issue of strength but had to be one of control, because if you check how babies grab an adult's finger it is always with their little finger????? food for thought????

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Because... I use the stronger fingers on either hand when possible. That is one reason why you'd always use the LH G on the C row (index finger) in preference to the G on the G row (middle finger). As far as using the A on the G row (middle finger), that A is a second choice and not the first choice. You would use it, but the first choice, again, is the A on the C row. In the context of a "system" these little points make more sense than if you address them in isolation.

 

 

Maybe you always use the c row G, but I think it is fair to say that others might not always use it (Excuse me for being pedantic, but it appears like you are saying that no one should use it). I have seen more than one player, including Chris Droney use the G row G very consistently. It all depends on the style you are trying to emulate.

 

 

Noel further points out that the B on the C row sounds much better than the B on the G row. You can see if this is true on your own concertina. On my concertinas the B reed on the G row lies under the hand and is on the inside of the reed pan (played on the press). The LH B reed, played on the draw, is out in the open and is on top of the reed pan. So the B draw sounds a little better - it's a bit clearer.

 

I agree that it is important to try that one for yourself. Different instruments definitely have stronger and weaker notes, but considering how many different ways there are of putting together a concertina, that I would suggest it is almost certainly false to say this is true for all instruments.

 

--

Bill

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There have been some interesting posts here relating to playing single-note melody, but I think what Robin was asking about in his original post was the effect of using the different rows on chordally-accompanied ('English-style anglo') music.

 

Personally I don't play too many tunes based on the inner row, mainly because my default style is right hand melody, and I play a C/G box almost exclusively. The very bright sound of that RH G row does have its attractions, but only in small doses.

 

But let's assume that pitch is immaterial. What are the limitations of the inner row (and here I'm talking about a 30+ button instrument)? Well, on the right hand there isn't too much difference apart from the greater distance for the fingers to travel to the accidentals on the top row (as Bill N mentioned above) and the absence of the 'William Kimber' cross-row alternative fingering (i.e. switching from middle to inner row) for the upper end of the scale. Otherwise everything is there as far as I can see, although tunes that modulate (e.g. Double Lead Through) or contain accidentals (Redowa Polka) might be slightly trickier.

 

The LH is another matter. My default chords for the middle row are the pushed tonic (C on my box), and the pulled subdominant (F) and dominant (G), easily achieved using combinations of middle and top row buttons. However, if you're playing on the inner row, the pulled dominant is slightly weaker and the pulled subdominant a very feeble affair (unless you have extra buttons or a convenient drone). There is, of course, a lovely rich subdominant chord right there on the middle row, but it's a push.

 

This might seem a bit esoteric, but in terms of bellows control it's pretty important. The chord patterns I described for middle row playing tend to balance out the pushes and pulls on most of the kind of music that I play. Playing on the inner row, though, you have the choice of either the weak pulled subdominant chord or the pushed alternative - which is going to unbalance the air control quite a bit. Of course it can be got around, but it's counter-intuitive.

 

There's not too much to choose between the minors, although the fingering doesn't transfer.

 

Naturally, to the inquisitive musician every problem is a mountain waiting to be climbed, and trying out tunes on the inner row is an excellent exercise. But the above might explain why it feels a bit odd.

 

Lastly to Mike Wild's point about added thrutch on the pull. I'm not sure whether it's a matter of biomechanics or simply that you generally have a bit more bellows travel available on pull as opposed to push, but my experience is that you can create a bigger swell on a pulled note. Whether you'd want to do like a blues harmonica player and actually bend pulled notes is a matter between you and your repairer.

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The LH is another matter. My default chords for the middle row are the pushed tonic (C on my box), and the pulled subdominant (F) and dominant (G), easily achieved using combinations of middle and top row buttons. However, if you're playing on the inner row, the pulled dominant is slightly weaker and the pulled subdominant a very feeble affair (unless you have extra buttons or a convenient drone). There is, of course, a lovely rich subdominant chord right there on the middle row, but it's a push.

 

This might seem a bit esoteric, but in terms of bellows control it's pretty important. The chord patterns I described for middle row playing tend to balance out the pushes and pulls on most of the kind of music that I play. Playing on the inner row, though, you have the choice of either the weak pulled subdominant chord or the pushed alternative - which is going to unbalance the air control quite a bit. Of course it can be got around, but it's counter-intuitive.

 

Brian,

I don't find this the least bit esoteric. It conforms completely to my practical experience.

And you're right in your initial statement - this thread is of little interest if you're playing only single-line melody with just the occasinal bass note.

 

Cheers,

John

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Well talking of fiddles...when playing the fiddle you have to use all the fingers of whatever hand you are working the fingerboard with and as such I don't understand this thinking of weak fingers versus strong in the context of playing the concertina.Maybe when you begin to play, indeed any instrument, then maybe certain fingers will be less used to being used but surely as you play, all fingers will become more controllable and if we have to get used to using the little finger all the time for the F# surely it makes sense to get used to using the ring finger equally so leaving one able to press all buttons with equal control.As an interesting aside I was talking to a teacher of the Alexander technique about how I had been struggling with the small finger( which I didn't understand because I had used it when playing fiddle and banjo) and she pointed out that it couldn't be an issue of strength but had to be one of control, because if you check how babies grab an adult's finger it is always with their little finger????? food for thought????

 

i was teaching a friend of mine who plays the fiddle some concertina, as he had his own at home but wanted to know how i approached it. i noticed a curious thing: whenever given the choice of pointer finger versus ring finger, he would choose ring. he also favored the little finger. i asked him why, and he said, "those are my strongest fingers." he said that he had worked so hard on his rolls that those fingers were his strongest. i felt the wind taken out of my sails, to say the least, because i was trying to describe fingering choices based on how strong each finger was, and he proved me wrong!

 

that being said, there is a fundamental difference you are not considering. on the fiddle etc. your fingers are not bound, but free to move. on the concertina, especially anglo, you are strapped in, and cannot change the height of your hand or the placement of it. you might think this inconsequential to finger strength, but if you think about it, imagine a violin player who could not choose the shape and position of their hand, but had their hand restrained a good inch lower than they would like. now imagine that they violin player could not move their hand AT ALL from this position. that is the concertina. i have a hard time imagining that they would so nimbly reach all the notes. try to teach someone the basic D scale on the anglo, and they will probably immediately have a problem with the pinkie. try to teach someone the C scale on the piano, and people probably won't even notice they are using their pinkie. so, although you correct in saying you can train the fingers to do many things, there is an inherent limitation of the instrument, which is compounded with an inherent limitation of the weaker fingers themselves. the ring and little finger are both not fully independent--they are weaker because you have less control independently of the other. you can't escape this fact. you can train them to do amazing things, but they will always require more training to get the same strength and control as the thumb, fore and middle fingers.

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...when you follow the basic principle that your index finger should be used on the first column, second finger on the second column, etc, isn't that fingering very standard? Middle finger for the E, then third finger for the C#, which is on the third column, and pinky on the A, which is on the fourth. I am surprised to hear other people would do it differently, what is the alternative? If you start E with your index finger, then you're moving the center of your layout to the left, which might make it very hard to come back to it, and might force you to get choppy, no?

"Might" is the key word here.

It depends considerably on what notes come immediately before and after. I would expect forced choppiness in some cases, but not in others. What was the tune for which Noel made his recommendation?

 

"Choppy" is interesting, too.

"Bouncy" from changing bellows direction seems to be considered a good thing, but "choppy" from jumping a finger is considered bad? But another word for "choppy" might be "staccato". Seems to me, then, that "choppy" should be considered another technique in the repertoire, to be used but not misused. (What constitutes "misuse", however, is itself a long debate, I'm sure. B))

 

it was seamus connolly's jig, by sean ryan ( http://www.thesession.org/tunes/display/6465 ).

 

i dont really want to say i believe in playing choppy--but i play a lot of staccato. i think there is definitely a difference between choppy and staccato. one is on purpose and the other is not. when i jump fingers, i use it for phrasing purposes, not to achieve staccato, which can be achieved much more effectively other ways.

 

 

I would expect forced choppiness in some cases...

 

Never when I am on my game. You always have the option of cross-fingering - where you use a finger normally dedicated to another row. This is a pretty important concept. For the right hand: when you go from the C row RH B (index finger) to the 3rd row C# on the Wheatstone layout, you would use your middle finger for the C# to avoid chopping.

Likewise, on the left hand, when you play from the C row G (with the first finger) to the A# to the A (as in G to G# to A), you would use the middle finger on the left hand for the G# (crossing over the first finger) and then use the first finger again for the A. This is how you would play the first measure of the Primrose Polka, but starting from F# to G to G# to A. Little finger, index finger, middle finger (crossing over the index finger) and then first finger again.

Crossing over is one technique used to avoid chopping, which is never acceptable- at least not in ITM. There is always another way around the problem. You just have to figure it out and remember it.

 

Dogmatic? Me...?

Nah.... Couldn't be!

 

noel does cross finger in many instances, but i have never seen him cross from B to C# on the right hand side, even though he plays wheatstone layout most of time/uses first finger C#. he will sooner jump the button than cross finger in that combination. he teaches that if you have a first finger C#, to use push B on the LH side, but there are some occasions when he will jump it, such as in a slow air, etc., which is proof that you can jump without sounding choppy. however, i don't recommend it, and i don't think he would either, as it is much more difficult to do than jump, and i have only seen him do it VERY rarely in that note combination. but as i said, i have NEVER seen him cross finger from B to C#, though i do know john williams is very fond of that, and i have seen john williams do that many times.

 

when you say chopping, do you mean jumping from one button to the other on the same finger? if so, noel hill does that all the time... he might not show his beginning classes that too often, but he definitely does it all the time, and i can think of an instance a couple years ago when he DID show his beginning classes to jump a note. the funny thing was that not everyone noticed... many people left the room remembering an alternate fingering when in fact he had jumped from A to d in the first measure of the two part lark in the morning: |AAA AdB|. he had actually jumped from first finger A LH side to first finger d on LH side. as i said before, only jump on purpose, and not because you can't do anything else.

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The LH is another matter. My default chords for the middle row are the pushed tonic (C on my box), and the pulled subdominant (F) and dominant (G), easily achieved using combinations of middle and top row buttons. However, if you're playing on the inner row, the pulled dominant is slightly weaker and the pulled subdominant a very feeble affair (unless you have extra buttons or a convenient drone). There is, of course, a lovely rich subdominant chord right there on the middle row, but it's a push.

 

This might seem a bit esoteric, but in terms of bellows control it's pretty important. The chord patterns I described for middle row playing tend to balance out the pushes and pulls on most of the kind of music that I play. Playing on the inner row, though, you have the choice of either the weak pulled subdominant chord or the pushed alternative - which is going to unbalance the air control quite a bit. Of course it can be got around, but it's counter-intuitive.

 

Brian,

I don't find this the least bit esoteric. It conforms completely to my practical experience.

And you're right in your initial statement - this thread is of little interest if you're playing only single-line melody with just the occasinal bass note.

 

Cheers,

John

 

i must apologize as i seem to have diverged the thread off topic. however, if you notice... my initial response dealt only with playing chorded music! so, first i contributed, and then i de-railed the thread. i agree, though, that there are so many more chordal possibilities when you are using all of the rows.

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i must apologize as i seem to have diverged the thread off topic. however, if you notice... my initial response dealt only with playing chorded music! so, first i contributed, and then i de-railed the thread. i agree, though, that there are so many more chordal possibilities when you are using all of the rows.

Don't apologize, David - I was remarking in the context of a different forum only yesterday that sometimes the slightly off-topic responses contain real gems of information. I'm interested in the way Irish-style players use the fingering alternatives, and there's has been some good stuff here about jumping fingers (something I prefer to avoid when possible). Your points about the restraint of the hand position and the independence of the ring and little fingers were interesting as well.

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Interesting to read David's post on "chopping".The very first lessons I received were from a young lad who would have been taught by Noel.The first tune we did was the Carraroe jig and he advocated chopping from the A to high D.For some reason, my mind rebelled against this and more or less left that tune to one side because I felt that the A on the G row was the way to go.Why I didn't want to do it I don't know, especially if had done it I at least would have been able to play the tune.This was also a hint to me that when playing in the key of D especially D major, that the A on the G row was important.Those classes were interrupted for me when I got ill and the first opportunity I got to get back to tuition was a day workshop.This was given by someone who was an even stronger devotee of Noel and what do you know, only he was all up for chopping.Again the same two notes although in another tune he preferred to use the A on G row??

Later on when I saw some arguments here saying that Noel didn't do it I wondered had I misunderstood those earlier lessons.However this summer, a piper friend of mine who is now trying the concertina, found that this same teacher used the chopping technique when teaching in a summer school, the teachers for which were chosen by Noel.My friend also turned away from that, thinking that it didn't make sense.

I myself wouldn't use the chopping move preferring instead to use the A on G row and it was practicing the use of this,which all started with the Carraroe,and other D tunes since, that got me thinking about the whole G row thing as I mentioned before.Glad to know I wasn't imagining that this chopping practice did in some ways come from Noel.

By the way David B, did you get my mail?

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We could argue all day about alternate and preferred fingerings. Whether and where you would chop or not. The proof is in the playing. Anybody can say how the tune might be played. I'd love to hear how other people are playing some of the tunes mentioned. Here is how I play The Carraroe Jig. I'd normally play it on the flute but it is nice and bright on the concertina. I play it without a single chop (jump from button to button with the same finger). I can't see how it would better with a chop -- but I'd like to hear it done.

I play the low D on the draw on the C row. I use both high Ds: the LH press D and the RH draw in the tune D, at various times. I use both As: the A on the G row and the A on the C row, depending on where I'm coming from and where i want to go.

The Carraroe Jig

 

I agree with Bill re Chris Droney's playing. Chris goes up and down the rows, rather than across the rows. Courses for horses....

Edited by David Levine
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.............Thank you Brian, I really should have said in my first post I was interested in the accompanied style ! But I seemed to unleash such an lively discussion, I didn't have the nerve to say anything.

I think you have answered my question.

I believe you are saying that you find no limitations as far as what chords you can play only the quality of certain chords. And a 38 keyed instrument addresses this issue (on mine anyway).

Which means I'm just not practising enough.

Thanks everyone

Robin

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We could argue all day about alternate and preferred fingerings. Whether and where you would chop or not. The proof is in the playing. Anybody can say how the tune might be played. I'd love to hear how other people are playing some of the tunes mentioned. Here is how I play The Carraroe Jig. I'd normally play it on the flute but it is nice and bright on the concertina. I play it without a single chop (jump from button to button with the same finger). I can't see how it would better with a chop -- but I'd like to hear it done.

I play the low D on the draw on the C row. I use both high Ds: the LH press D and the RH draw in the tune D, at various times. I use both As: the A on the G row and the A on the C row, depending on where I'm coming from and where i want to go.

The Carraroe Jig

 

I agree with Bill re Chris Droney's playing. Chris goes up and down the rows, rather than across the rows. Courses for horses....

 

as far as i recall, i go back and forth between chopping and not chopping in this version. i can and do play it both ways. the problem is i just learned this tune today (for this purpose), and it is not automatic enough to play it well AND purposely go back and forth in a set pattern, so as far as i recall i chopped/did not chop willy nilly, which is actually more usual for me.

 

my version of the carraroe jig

 

i apologize about the overall sloppiness, poor quality of the setting, the speed, the incorrect notes, and the fact that the chords don't really go anywhere. i could spend a few days working on it, but i'd rather just have it out of my life. try and see if you can find where i jump (chop) and where i use an alternate fingering, and see if you think either is detrimental.

 

yesterday i ended up accidentally stretching my right strap, so i was having trouble getting all the notes to speak with consistent tone control. i have to adjust my playing style until i get a chance to add an extra notch in my strap. if you notice, by the end, i found a work around (lifting up the instrument) and the ever missing high E starts to show up again.

 

daiv

Edited by david_boveri
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Quoting Jileha: For your second example (F#-G-G#-A), I would use the [little] finger on F# (as usual), then switch to the G row for the push G with the ring finger, index on push G# in 3rd row, back to the pull A in the G row with the ring finger (which I keep on that button for that sequence). This means you have to stretch your fingers a bit more, but I find this also more comfortable than your alternative with three fingers taking up the space of two.

 

I'm not sure I understand this. It's important to me because I love The Primrose Polka and this sequence occurs in the opening notes. For me this is a key tune for using and understanding all the sharps and flats in the context of a tune in G or D. I worked out playing the sequence after the F# (E.g. the G-G#-A) all on the third row, as well as the cross-fingering I mentioned (where the G=index finger, G#=middle finger crossed over, A=index again). It is smoother played on the third row than cross-fingered. But I don't like the fact that it is so unusual and counter-intuitive. Not that cross-row is ever intuitive. There is an unavoidable jump to the low E in the third or fourth bar. Are other people playing this tune? I can post a clip of my playing the tune if you're not familiar with The Primrose Polka. The tune is on Kilfenora's latest CD, "Century."

Referring to Jileha's example, isn't the ring finger the third finger (little, ring, middle, index)? Do you really mean to put your ring finger on the G in the G row? I don't get that. It doesn't make any sense at all to me. Have you tried to play the tune? Or are you just citing this possible way of playing, without actually using it in practice? I don't mean to catch you out here. I am asking if yours is a productive way to play the tune.

I've also asked Tim Collins how he plays the tune in the opening measure - whether he plays it on the third row, or uses a cross-finger technique.

Sorry to bore everybody. There must be somebody else on the board who plays Primrose, or who has attempted it....

I'm posting this to a separate thread on the learning tunes, where I think it would more appropriate. I know it's a double post- I won't do it again. It's relevant to the previous "Middle Row" thread in the General Discussion forum, but should properly be a new topic.

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.............Thank you Brian... I believe you are saying that you find no limitations as far as what chords you can play only the quality of certain chords.

Yes, Robin, exactly. But 'quality' is itself a subjective judgement, so what might appear at first an 'inferior' chord - an inversion, maybe, or one lacking an element of the triad - might turn out to give an intriguingly different flavour. One of the interesting things about recording Farewell Manchester in four keys on the same instrument was that each version was not merely a transposition of the others, but an entirely different creature with alternative chordings, varying potential for cross-rowing, and so forth.

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I 'm glad we have focussed on the original question again, as Brian pointed out. The use of inner row notes in ITM is a lot about smooth ornamentation and speed, with little use of chords from time to time. We often forget that people are playing very different kinds of music on the same instrument eg a C/G Anglo.

 

I assumed that the initial question was about whether you could just transfer fingering from C row to G row. It seems clear to me that the instrumet was centred round C and the button layout reflects that. The fact that Irish folk musicians developed the skill to play G and D and other keys on the C/G to fit in with fiddlers etc may have been because they were the cheapest and easiest to get hold of in the old days. Playing along the rows allowed octave , 'double note' style which helps to give volume, which is one reason to play on say the G row for G key. I adopted Mick Bramich's advice and play in G off the C row LHS and find that's what a lot of people now call 'Noel Hill' Style.

 

Blues harmonica players adopted an apparently 'illogical' key eg using a C 'harp' to play in G, or commonly an A harp for E the common blues key on guitar. Cajun accordion players used C instruments to play in G.

 

 

I'm glad I stuck with C/G Anglo after playing D/G melodeon for years. It is such a flexible instrument

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.............Thank you Brian... I believe you are saying that you find no limitations as far as what chords you can play only the quality of certain chords.

Yes, Robin, exactly. But 'quality' is itself a subjective judgement, so what might appear at first an 'inferior' chord - an inversion, maybe, or one lacking an element of the triad - might turn out to give an intriguingly different flavour. One of the interesting things about recording Farewell Manchester in four keys on the same instrument was that each version was not merely a transposition of the others, but an entirely different creature with alternative chordings, varying potential for cross-rowing, and so forth.

i've been working on playing in multiple keys, and i still have a long way to go, but i find what you say to be true. even in winstor gallop, for example, my setting of the tune in G is very different than in G. i find that i CAN do mostly the same chord sequences as in C, but that it doesn't sound right at all. you can get so worked up about the appropriateness of the keys according to music theory, but it seems that strange inversions and missing notes from chords usually sounds better than nice, consistent chords.

 

I 'm glad we have focussed on the original question again, as Brian pointed out. The use of inner row notes in ITM is a lot about smooth ornamentation and speed, with little use of chords from time to time. We often forget that people are playing very different kinds of music on the same instrument eg a C/G Anglo.

 

I assumed that the initial question was about whether you could just transfer fingering from C row to G row. It seems clear to me that the instrumet was centred round C and the button layout reflects that. The fact that Irish folk musicians developed the skill to play G and D and other keys on the C/G to fit in with fiddlers etc may have been because they were the cheapest and easiest to get hold of in the old days. Playing along the rows allowed octave , 'double note' style which helps to give volume, which is one reason to play on say the G row for G key. I adopted Mick Bramich's advice and play in G off the C row LHS and find that's what a lot of people now call 'Noel Hill' Style.

 

Blues harmonica players adopted an apparently 'illogical' key eg using a C 'harp' to play in G, or commonly an A harp for E the common blues key on guitar. Cajun accordion players used C instruments to play in G.

 

 

I'm glad I stuck with C/G Anglo after playing D/G melodeon for years. It is such a flexible instrument

 

i am not sure how other people do it, but i usually don't actually play entirely in the G row for octave style--octaves are very complicated, and it depends on which two octaves you're using and whether or not you're pulling chords at the same time. for example, i usually play G row B, but i am learning more and more to play both B's on the right hand side pull, which is much more difficult but i find useful for certain situations. i a

 

i beg to differ that mick bramich's style is the same as noel hill! it is actually very common nowadays to play the key of G in the C row. i believe it was paddy murphy who pioneered the idea of cross row playing, not noel hill or mick bramich. i had used mick's book to learn how to play initially, and let me tell you that the method is completely different from noel hill's.

 

oh, and if you have any extra D/G melodeons hanging around, i'll take them off your hands if you don't need them. i graciously accept donations, :-P

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i apologize about the overall sloppiness,....

 

try and see if you can find where i jump (chop) and where i use an alternate fingering,....

How about
linguistic
sloppiness?
:unsure:

Where it was first used here, I understood "chopping" to mean an undesirable interruption or irregularity in the sound of the music, not the "jumping" of a finger, which was supposedly causing it. If you (David and others) start using "chopping" to mean "jumping", then how are we to distinguish jumping which doesn't seem to "chop" the sound, or a "chopping" effect which is caused by something other than jumping a finger?

 

Aside from that, I think it's an interesting and worthwhile discussion. :)

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