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#2007263 - 12/31/12 10:48 PM New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score.
Serge Marinkovic Offline
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#2007268 - 12/31/12 11:08 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
DameMyra Offline
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Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1958
Loc: South Jersey
Thank you for sharing. I have some very personal feelings about this matter but . . .
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#2007269 - 12/31/12 11:09 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
Michael_99 Offline
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Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Thanks for posting the NYT url to the article.

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#2007272 - 12/31/12 11:23 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
JoelW Offline
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Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4781
Loc: USA
I can't imagine not having a piece memorized to perfection before performing it...

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#2007273 - 12/31/12 11:26 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: JoelW]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2140
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I can't imagine not having a piece memorized to perfection before performing it...

Just wait until you start learning pieces in 2 weeks... no time to build muscle memory at all.
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
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#2007274 - 12/31/12 11:27 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Kuanpiano]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4781
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Originally Posted By: Joel_W
I can't imagine not having a piece memorized to perfection before performing it...

Just wait until you start learning pieces in 2 weeks... no time to build muscle memory at all.


What sorts of pieces? And for what might I ask, college performances?

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#2007276 - 12/31/12 11:29 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2140
Loc: Canada
Yeah, though I'm not a music major. Stuff like Brahms intermezzi, small pieces from large sets (like Le Tombeau de Couperin).

Then there's stuff that's IMPOSSIBLE to memorize - the fugue to Beethoven's op.110?
_________________________
Working on:
Chopin - Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
Rachmaninoff - Preludes op. 23 nos. 3,4,6, op. 32 no.12
Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2007277 - 12/31/12 11:37 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
RealPlayer Offline
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Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2334
Loc: NYC
Gee, ya think? But with my (and my colleagues') focus on contemporary music, it's hard to remember an instance when we DIDN'T have a score in front of us And not just pianists. Yes, the article does mention this "exception" for new music. Hey, I guess we were leading the way!
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www.josephkubera.com

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#2007321 - 01/01/13 03:20 AM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Kuanpiano]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6343
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Then there's stuff that's IMPOSSIBLE to memorize - the fugue to Beethoven's op.110?

Not impossible. I managed to do it - but had to work on it a long time !! smile
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#2007412 - 01/01/13 10:34 AM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
WhoDwaldi Offline
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Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
Years ago, I recall Andre Watts using the score on a Mostly Mozart PBS broadcast for a concerto, a purely magical performance (he only seemed to really need the score in a couple of spots).

Myra Hess gave performances with BOMBS DROPPING during WWII using the score, and sometimes got criticized for it--asinine!

I have noticed a fine young pianist of international note using paper scores or an iPad in some of his YouTube clips of performances. Interesting. http://m.youtube.com/user/edjacoh

I used to be a memory-only snob until I had to play the slow mvt. of Bach's Italian Concerto, which is pure torture from memory.

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#2007448 - 01/01/13 12:21 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
pianoloverus Offline
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For amateurs like myself, I think many or most would greatly benefit from using the music to avoid (a)the fear/anxiety of memory slips and (b)all the incredible extra time needed to try and memorize a piece well enough to avoid memory slips.

My Christmas program, which I played 10 times at a senior center, was over a 100 pages of music and perhaps as long as 1.5 hours of solo piano(I only played about half of it each time). If I had chosen to try and play from memory it would have been more like 10 pages, I would have been nervous about memory slips, but most importantly I would haven't had the pleasure of playing the other 90 pages of music.

I strongly think that for most amateurs, who are not usually "required" to play from memory, spending all the extra time trying to memorize a piece loses precious time that could be used far more productively and pleasantly.

For professionals, playing from memory is often required although maybe that's changing. My guess is that most professionals don't have much difficulty memorizing a score except for a contemporary piece, but more than an small percent do have anxiety about memory slips.

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#2007466 - 01/01/13 01:11 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
BruceD Online   content
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Registered: 05/26/01
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I agree with much that pianoloverus has written. I will also add that, when I have performed recently, I have both used the score and performed from memory.

While I am not an absolute, fanatic adherent about playing from memory, I do find that
- playing a piece from memory because it has, almost unintentionally, been memorized as I have worked on it
- playing a piece from memory that I have made an effort to memorize
are both proofs to me that I can still memorize a piece and play it well from memory - not an insignificant factor as I age. There is, however, the added support and security of having the score on the music stand.

I think that too many feel that someone who is playing the music with the score on the music stand does not know the music as well as s/he should. Some seem to think that the score on the stand means that the performer is reading from the score throughout the performance. For many of us this is simply not the case. As has been mentioned, Richter, in his later years, frequently used the score. I would hardly think that that would be an argument proving that this pianist didn't know the score sufficiently well or was constantly relying on the score as he was playing.

As freeing as some feel playing from memory may be, it is equally liberating to be free of the worry of memory lapses by having the score on the music stand to consult at certain moments during a performance.

To keep whatever grey cells I may have left, I will continue to exercise the mind by memorizing certain pieces, but memorization will never be a prerequisite to performance for me.

Regards,
_________________________
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#2007469 - 01/01/13 01:20 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
jdhampton924 Offline
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Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1009
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
I believe it is just a choice to make. If one can memorize the scores, it can add a sense of drama and the illusion of conflict. This can be exciting to the audience.

Though the flip side, who says you always need conflict?

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#2007475 - 01/01/13 01:29 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
WhoDwaldi Offline
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Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
I have played for Christmas parties where I would do something short, fast, loud, and happy fom standard literature, such as a Scarlatti work or a Mozart sonata movement, before launching into reading innumerable carols and songs.

I alway use the score for playing the opening solo work, even if I can play it fom memory, because you never know when a drunk guest will try to carry on a conversation (with you) while one is playing. smile

And always someone has to tell me about a friend of a friend's nephew who played something that "sounded about like what you just played" at said nephew's Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 12. (Yea, right.) But, of course, nephew didn't "HAVE TO USE the music." (And he's now a brain surgeon.)

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#2007476 - 01/01/13 01:30 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
DonaldLee Offline
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Registered: 03/14/11
Posts: 168
Thanks for sharing. I personally will never perform publicly with a score (knock on wood). I guess it's been ingrained in me ever since I was five that a "real pianist" doesn't play with a score. That isn't to say that I have any objections to pianists using a score. However, I will say that memorization has saved me a** in a few situations. The most recent occasion was when I was accompanying my mezzo friend (she was singing "Noel de Jouets" by Ravel, which isn't exactly easy) in a recital at my university, and I went for the page turn before the last two pages, and the score onto the stage. I was able to continue playing without a hitch because I memorize everything I have time to (the more you memorize, the easier it is to memorize). I also feel more at ease playing from memory because I trust my brain more than a page turner or my page turning.
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Currently working on:
Brahms Op. 118
Mozart Sonata K. 576
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#2007489 - 01/01/13 02:04 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
Barbareola Offline
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Registered: 09/30/12
Posts: 67
Loc: Germany
So these pianist who play with a score - do they have somebody next to them, turning the page?

And yes, I know that is a question that can only be asked by somebody who hasn't gotten farther yet than playing sheets that can be arranged next to each other, without having to turn the page.... *cheeksreddening*
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Currently working on: Venetian Gondola song by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

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#2007491 - 01/01/13 02:14 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: jdhampton924]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: jdhampton924
I believe it is just a choice to make. If one can memorize the scores, it can add a sense of drama and the illusion of conflict. This can be exciting to the audience.

Though the flip side, who says you always need conflict?
Where's the drama and conflict? When one hears a professional recital one usually is not expecting a memory slip. Nor is it considered a monumental task unless it is something like Schiff playing both books of the WTC from memory. Even if one was I don't see how this would any drama and conflict.

If a pianist, amateur or pro, gets lost with a memory problem, it just creates an uncomfortable situation for the audience and an even more uncomfortable situation for the performer.

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#2007494 - 01/01/13 02:32 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Barbareola]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4794
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Barbareola
So these pianist who play with a score - do they have somebody next to them, turning the page?
Oh, yes. I once read an article about a professional page turner who worked for Carnegie Hall.

A few years ago I was asked, just moments before a performance, to turn pages for a Beethoven concerto. I was only marginally familiar with the piece. I must say it was an extremely nerve-wracking experience. I was terrified I would lose my place, make an unfortunate shadow, turn the page too soon or too late or get in the way of the performer!
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#2007500 - 01/01/13 02:42 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: gooddog]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
Knowing a piece from memory, for me, is like a blue print on my brain. Reading the music is a developed skill and I believe being able to play away from the printed score is another developed skill which seems to imply a deeper understanding of the music. I never force my students to memorize but I do believe having a library of music in my memory is intriguing to myself and usually more so to the listener. I've always heard we only use a small portion of our brains so I like to challenge mine as much as possible. I have a closet fulls of books much too difficult to tote around.

rada

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#2007517 - 01/01/13 03:25 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: pianoloverus]
jdhampton924 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1009
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: jdhampton924
I believe it is just a choice to make. If one can memorize the scores, it can add a sense of drama and the illusion of conflict. This can be exciting to the audience.

Though the flip side, who says you always need conflict?
Where's the drama and conflict? When one hears a professional recital one usually is not expecting a memory slip. Nor is it considered a monumental task unless it is something like Schiff playing both books of the WTC from memory. Even if one was I don't see how this would any drama and conflict.

If a pianist, amateur or pro, gets lost with a memory problem, it just creates an uncomfortable situation for the audience and an even more uncomfortable situation for the performer.


I am going to have to disagree, in a lot of ways, it is like walking a tight rope. As an audience member, we know that more then likely nothing bad is going to happen, but it might, and that is exciting. It is a little bit of Schadenfreude, also it is a bit of wanting to see the artist conquer the physical aspects of playing.

I am not trying to say that is what people always want to see, but it is part of it.

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#2007529 - 01/01/13 03:40 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: BruceD]
Ragdoll Offline
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Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 672
Loc: Illinois
Quote:
There is, however, the added support and security of having the score on the music stand.

I think that too many feel that someone who is playing the music with the score on the music stand does not know the music as well as s/he should. Some seem to think that the score on the stand means that the performer is reading from the score throughout the performance. For many of us this is simply not the case.


I agree, even after I memorize a song well I still have the music before me (playing for an audience) for my Linus blanket but only look at it if I have a brain freeze fumbling around for a grip. Been there and it's so frustrating and embarrassing blush, Still much the non-confident beginner.
_________________________
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Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken.


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#2007533 - 01/01/13 03:43 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2358
Loc: UK
I attended a concert last year, where a popular modern day composer and pianist played his own compositions. I was surprised to see him using the score for a couple of the pieces.

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#2007535 - 01/01/13 03:45 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
RonaldSteinway Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/11/08
Posts: 1490
I just wonder people in this forum, how many percent is muscle memory.
For me, I remember the flow of the music, but I have to say 90% is muscle memory.
I keep practicing until I SUDDENLY can play without music. I have never really tried to remember.
I think it is not wise, but now I never need to play by heart like when I was teenager.
Love to hear from others....

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#2007541 - 01/01/13 03:50 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
WhoDwaldi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
Aren't many recordings made using the score, and the listener is none the wiser?

There is a story about John Rubinstein turning pages for his father's Chopin Mazurkas recording (and screwing up).

I seem to remember a documentary where Horowitz used the score for a recording of Mozart K. 488.

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#2007546 - 01/01/13 04:02 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: RonaldSteinway]
WhoDwaldi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 244
Study of form, structure, harmony is supposed to help, but I would agree that for most people it is more muscle memory than they would care to admit.

But, there are people who can write out every note of a Bach prelude and fugue that they are playing, for example, such is their knowledge of the score.

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#2007550 - 01/01/13 04:08 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: WhoDwaldi]
DonaldLee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/11
Posts: 168
Instead of writing the notes out, sometimes I play a piece so dreadfully slow that I have time to say the name of the note/chord that comes next out loud before I actually play it. It helps to avoid memory slips.
_________________________
Currently working on:
Brahms Op. 118
Mozart Sonata K. 576
Bach Prelude and Fugue in b-flat minor (WTC Book I)
Balikerev Islamey



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#2007571 - 01/01/13 05:04 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5122
Until I bought my own piano two years ago, I only had about ten minutes' worth of music stored in my memory. But I found it so much more enjoyable to be able to play music without recourse to the score that I've been adding bit by it to my memorized repertoire ever since. It just feels great to be able to play any one of several pieces (rather than half-remembered bits of classics interspersed with rubbishy linking improvisations....) whenever I happen to come across a piano, anywhere, anytime.

I'd say that 95% of my playing from memory is down to muscle memory; the rest is remembering where the modulations are (and into which key) and the basic harmonic structure, but that's sufficient to get me out of pickles (coupled with improvisations) if my muscle memory fails. But still, there is a lot, lot more music that I've learnt to play, but with the music in front of me.......
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2007581 - 01/01/13 05:29 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: jdhampton924]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: jdhampton924
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: jdhampton924
I believe it is just a choice to make. If one can memorize the scores, it can add a sense of drama and the illusion of conflict. This can be exciting to the audience.

Though the flip side, who says you always need conflict?
Where's the drama and conflict? When one hears a professional recital one usually is not expecting a memory slip. Nor is it considered a monumental task unless it is something like Schiff playing both books of the WTC from memory. Even if one was I don't see how this would any drama and conflict.

If a pianist, amateur or pro, gets lost with a memory problem, it just creates an uncomfortable situation for the audience and an even more uncomfortable situation for the performer.


I am going to have to disagree, in a lot of ways, it is like walking a tight rope. As an audience member, we know that more then likely nothing bad is going to happen, but it might, and that is exciting. It is a little bit of Schadenfreude, also it is a bit of wanting to see the artist conquer the physical aspects of playing.

I am not trying to say that is what people always want to see, but it is part of it.
I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks this way although, obviously, at least one person does. I have gone to hundreds of concerts and never gave this one second thought, and it seems a quite bizarre of thinking a concert experience even if it's only a tiny thought in the back of one's mind. Kind of like going to play and thinking about whether the actors will remember their lines.

A parent going to their child's performance might be nervous or anxious about their child's memory failing but calling this a sense or drama or illusion of conflict seems like a wrong choice of words. Same thing with calling this exciting.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/01/13 05:31 PM)

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#2007592 - 01/01/13 05:46 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: Serge Marinkovic]
asthecrowflies Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 122
Loc: London, Cambridge, San Francis...
When I saw Stephen Hough last year, he played his own Sonata (broken branches) with his score (though he didn't for his Liszt, Scriabin and Beethoven).
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Currently working on: Bach Partita 4, English Suite 2, Toccata d-minor, Chopin-op 10/1, Schubert Impromptus

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#2007600 - 01/01/13 06:01 PM Re: New York Times Article on Pianists playing with a score. [Re: asthecrowflies]
bennevis Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5122
Originally Posted By: asthecrowflies
When I saw Stephen Hough last year, he played his own Sonata (broken branches) with his score (though he didn't for his Liszt, Scriabin and Beethoven).


He said in an interview he wanted to show the audience that he was playing a properly composed piece of music, not an improvisation. It is probably a general expectation that pianists play contemporary music (or atonal music apart from Berg's Sonata, though I saw Hélène Grimaud play it from the music too....) from the score. Even Pollini plays Stockhausen and Nono (though not Schoenberg or Webern) with the music in front of him.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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