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Thread: David Lucas Burge's Perfect and Relative Pitch courses

  1. #346
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ
    I almost hate to say this and probably shouldn't but I will. Ignore it if you think I'm wrong. I was looking at this post and there are over 3,500 hundred hits to this thread. I'm sorry, but there is way too much interest in perfect pitch. I really don't understand the obsession with it. It doesn't have much to do with being a musician. It is like learning scales so that you can play scales, when the goal should be learning scales to be able to play captivating solos. Having perfect pitch will not make you a great player. Is it better to have it than not? I suppose, but I wouldn't dedicate any time to trying to get it when I could be learning how to play guitar. And playing guitar will give you good ears, not memorizing sounds of pitches. I have played with countless musicians who have perfect pitch and more that don't. The ones that don't have it are ususally better musicians. They can play their intruments. I don't even understand why perfect pitch is needed. I don't have it and can pretty much play anything I want, my relative pitch is strong enough. I got it from playing the guitar everyday over the years. I'm not saying it is a bad thing to try to get it but make sure it doesn't cut into your time on the instrument. I think perfect pitch courses are like get rich courses, generally the people who offer the courses are the ones who get rich. Just my opinion. I just worry that the cart gets put before the horse.

    -CJ
    "The ones that don't have it are usually better musicians."

    Here's a list of a few musicians with perfect pitch: Jimi Hendrix, John Paul Jones, Mariah Carey, Shakira, Yo-Yo-Ma, John Williams, Julie Andrews, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Yanni, Barbara Streisand, etc.

    Having perfect pitch doesn't mean you're a motivated and expressive musician, of course. But I believe this skill gets RID of the cart and allows you to completely focus on the horse.

    To each his own.

  2. #347
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    I seriously doubt Jimi Hendrix had perfect pitch or he wouldn't have tuned in the cracks the way he did. Regardless, your list is one tenth of one percent of all the musicians in the world today. Besides, they certainly didn't develop it through a program, it was because they learned music as a kid (which Jimi Hendrix didn't by the way). If having perfect pitch was a way of getting rid of the cart, music school would offer a course on developing perfect pitch (which they don't). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying having perfect pitch is a bad thing, just not not an important thing.

    -CJ

  3. #348
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ
    I seriously doubt Jimi Hendrix had perfect pitch or he wouldn't have tuned in the cracks the way he did. Regardless, your list is one tenth of one percent of all the musicians in the world today. Besides, they certainly didn't develop it through a program, it was because they learned music as a kid (which Jimi Hendrix didn't by the way). If having perfect pitch was a way of getting rid of the cart, music school would offer a course on developing perfect pitch (which they don't). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying having perfect pitch is a bad thing, just not not an important thing.

    -CJ
    That man definitely did have perfect pitch.

    Perfect pitch is PERCEPTION. Perception is different from construction. He was a rock star. Rock stars don't sing/play perfectly in tune or else they're SQUARE. Listen to his pieces and the way he crafts his solos and music. Listen to his TONE.

    Your mind is already made up it seems. Unless you open your mind, you will never see the importance or use of this skill. The reason why it isn't offered at colleges is due to the stubborn mindset that you have adopted. Why do you feel that it cannot be developed? People told you that it can't be developed and that it isn't useful. Until you make up your OWN mind and experience it for yourself, you'll never see a use for it.

    Who defines important? We're musicians. We play pitches. Are you trying to tell me that internalizing the 12 tones isn't important to musicians? Surely there is a contradiction here.

  4. #349
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Where did I say it can't be developed? Matter of fact I bet it can. I'm just saying that it isn't as important as you would imagine. And if it takes you away from your instrument, it isn't worth working on.

    I teach at some of the most innovative colleges in the world, by the way. And all these schools are very open minded. The general thought is that the more time spent on the instrument the better. You would find yourself with a more useful set of ears by dedicating the same amount of time transcribing the music you like. That is how all great musicians develop their ears. Not with ear training CDs.

    The fact that you think Jimi Hendrix tunes in the cracks because it is cool is a very strange concept. Matter of fact he was mostly in tune, it just wasn't in E exactly. Sometimes a half step flat, others in between E and Eb. As I said, I have played with countless musicians with perfect pitch and tuning slightly flat makes them crazy. That is why I know he didn't have perfect pitch, because he would have been uncomfortable playing if he did. Whether he had it or not, he is one of my favorite musicians. Did you know him and test his ability to identify random notes? By the way, most rock music is in perfect tune and I don't know anyone who thinks that to be cool, you should be out of tune. I canít imagine Jimi Hendrix the musician that he was, willing to allow his music to suffer to be cool. I mean if he was physically uncomfortable playing music in order to not be ďSquare,Ē his music would suffer because of it. I have out takes of him jamming and once again it is in the cracks and it doesnít bother him or else he would use his so called perfect pitch and tune it to E rather than Eb and a half.

    Again, I'm not saying perfect pitch is a bad thing. It may be better to have than to not but, once again, anything that takes you away from your instrument is not a good thing. After all, I would assume you want good ears so you can be a better guitarist. So the point is to develop a good relationship with your instrument.

    If I could push a button and get it, I would (if I cold push the button again to get rid of it if I didn't like it).

    Are you Lucas Burge? Is he a good musician, I have never heard him play. I think he makes his money from selling perfect pitch ear training courses.

    Anyway, why don't you post some of your music so we can hear if developing perfect pitch has improved your playing. I'm interested, as an educator to know. I have an open mind, if you can show my why the the time dedicated to learning it is worth it, I'll do it as well. The only thing I'm saying is that the musicians who I know who have it aren't any better than the ones who don't. And the only reason that some great musicians have it is because they spent countless years (early ones at that) on their instruments. It is a byproduct that comes after the fact. Not the reason for their greatness at all.

    -CJ
    Last edited by ChrisJ; 05-05-2008 at 07:38 AM.

  5. #350
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisJ
    Where did I say it can't be developed? Matter of fact I bet it can. I'm just saying that it isn't as important as you would imagine. And if it takes you away from your instrument, it isn't worth working on.

    I teach at some of the most innovative colleges in the world, by the way. And all these schools are very open minded. The general thought is that the more time spent on the instrument the better. You would find yourself with a more useful set of ears by dedicating the same amount of time transcribing the music you like. That is how all great musicians develop their ears. Not with ear training CDs.

    The fact that you think Jimi Hendrix tunes in the cracks because it is cool is a very strange concept. Matter of fact he was mostly in tune, it just wasn't in E exactly. Sometimes a half step flat, others in between E and Eb. As I said, I have played with countless musicians with perfect pitch and tuning slightly flat makes them crazy. That is why I know he didn't have perfect pitch, because he would have been uncomfortable playing if he did. Whether he had it or not, he is one of my favorite musicians. Did you know him and test his ability to identify random notes? By the way, most rock music is in perfect tune and I don't know anyone who thinks that to be cool, you should be out of tune. I canít imagine Jimi Hendrix the musician that he was, willing to allow his music to suffer to be cool. I mean if he was physically uncomfortable playing music in order to not be ďSquare,Ē his music would suffer because of it. I have out takes of him jamming and once again it is in the cracks and it doesnít bother him or else he would use his so called perfect pitch and tune it to E rather than Eb and a half.

    Again, I'm not saying perfect pitch is a bad thing. It may be better to have than to not but, once again, anything that takes you away from your instrument is not a good thing. After all, I would assume you want good ears so you can be a better guitarist. So the point is to develop a good relationship with your instrument.

    If I could push a button and get it, I would (if I cold push the button again to get rid of it if I didn't like it).

    Are you Lucas Burge? Is he a good musician, I have never heard him play. I think he makes his money from selling perfect pitch ear training courses.

    Anyway, why don't you post some of your music so we can hear if developing perfect pitch has improved your playing. I'm interested, as an educator to know. I have an open mind, if you can show my why the the time dedicated to learning it is worth it, I'll do it as well. The only thing I'm saying is that the musicians who I know who have it aren't any better than the ones who don't. And the only reason that some great musicians have it is because they spent countless years (early ones at that) on their instruments. It is a byproduct that comes after the fact. Not the reason for their greatness at all.

    -CJ
    It's all about context. I say that one should first work on creating a great context for musicmaking. Your ear is the most important asset to being a musician. Logically, if you can hear more, you will have a larger pallete to work with as a musician, but admittedly, it still takes a true artist to utilize all of the skills that perfect pitch offers. However, if you improve your context, then the lower levels will fall into place more smoothly, guaranteed.

    Yes, perfect pitch has improved everything I do in music. I only have empirical proof for that, however.

    I can't vouch for David Lucas Burges' musicmaking, but the man has fantastic ears. Again, it takes a true artist to fully utilize these things. He sells ear training discs, so logically he should have good hearing.

    If you look into the TRUE INNOVATORS of music, you'll find that a very large percentage of them have perfect pitch. I doubt it's a coincidence.

    As for the comment about spending more time on your instrument, I wholeheartedly agree. But you can always add time on top of it to train your ear. Many of the roadblocks we have in musicmaking are due to hearing! If we remove these roadblocks then we will have a clearer path towards artistic expression.

  6. #351
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Iíll stop bothering you about this and Iím not really disputing that absolute pitch is a good thing; I just think that it isnít the most important aspect of being a musician and not need be focused on. I do know that I get one or two students every year that are obsessed with getting it and it makes me crazy because they are usually the students that donít play as well as the others and I always tell them to quit worrying about it and practice their guitar. A lot of aspiring musicians seem think that perfect pitch is the holy grail, which I believe is pretty far from the truth. Some things you may or may not know about absolute pitch. As I said, I have played with countless musicians with absolute pitch and this is what they say:

    Sometimes it makes them crazy and they wish that they didnít have it. There are two reasons for this. One, because listening to music that is not in perfect tune, gives them a headache. They also conclude that music can not be in perfect tune all the time so it is disturbing.

    Two, (maybe part of the course addresses this) I have heard this a few times as well. Absolute pitch makes relative pitch difficult. I have been playing thirty years so I have good relative pitch. When I hear a F# note it doesnít mean anything to me unless it is in context, meaning against a chord or tonal center. So if I hear an F# against C chord or key center, I hear a #11, or something Lydian. Someone with perfect pitch only hears an F# note. They donít hear things around tone centers, which leads to frustration. Someone I used to play with told me that they would trade perfect pitch for better relative pitch any day so they could put things in context to a tonal center. In other words she would rather hear the F# note as an interval from another pitch than just as a F# note. It is easy for me to hear ďLydianĒ while she only hears C, D, E, F#, G, A, B.

    You may not believe this but I have heard that people with absolute pitch go sharp after some years. I have heard this from older musicians with perfect pitch and I have read it before as well. They start to hear the F# note as a G note. This does not happen with people with good relative pitch as everything is based on a center. If you do a google search for this, I bet you find documentation.

    Absolute pitch is something all people are born with. It is factory equipment. We have it as software so we can learn language. Some people say that it may be factory installed by God or evolution so we can recognize our motherís voice from that of anotherís or so we can tell the difference between a lion and a goat. Regardless it goes away after we donít need it anymore. If we study music as children under the age of five, we can hold on to it. Therefore having perfect pitch is not something we learn as much as it is something we remember.

    Jeff Berlin, one of the greatest bass players known has perfect pitch and a photographic memory. He can look at a chart, hear it and commit it to memory at the same time. Something that seems pretty cool to me but he told me that perfect pitch makes him crazy sometimes.

    Less than ten percent of American students in a music conservatory have perfect pitch compared to three quarters in Japan. Thatís right, three quarters! I teach half and half in both countries and Iíll be honest, the American students are light years ahead of the Japanese musically. The Japanese start their kids early so they retain the ability but it has very little to do with creativity, insight, feel. The Japanese kids can transcribe circles around the Americans but are not musical. You would think that having perfect pitch would make learning music a much faster thing to do but the Japanese show that it is not so. It doesn't seem to give them any advantage. That is why I say that perfect pitch has little bearing on being a good musician, I work with both those with it and without it and having it or not having it doesnít seem to make any difference.

    My Daughter is four and has perfect pitch, by the way. I had her in lessons at two and she can nail a C note better than me and sight sing in the key of C. I had her start early, not to develop absolute pitch but to enjoy music and become used to making music.

    As I said, and this is only my opinion, I donít think perfect pitch is what makes certain musicians great, it is the byproduct of many years on the instrument.

  7. #352
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    I'll use this analogy:

    Having perfect pitch is like hearing sound colors. Much like seeing all of your visual colors and having 20/20 vision doesn't make you a master painter, internalizing and interpreting these 12 pitches does not make you a true artist in music.

    HOWEVER, perfect pitch increases your aural acuity. It greatly helps your intonation, improvising, composing, transcribing, etc. It is not NECESSARY, but it sure helps, let me tell you.

    You're right, this helps your technique/perception, but it does NOT help artistry per se. It gives you a larger "palette" to work with, but unless it is used by a true artist, then it is useless. It's all about the soul, man.

    Relative pitch can be difficult for some people with perfect pitch just as perfect pitch can be difficult to obtain for people with relative pitch. They're separate abilities. I am pretty far in my perfect pitch training, and my relative pitch and perfect pitch are starting to work together. When both are working together, I can guarantee you, musicmaking is more effective than when you have relative pitch OR perfect pitch alone. Relative pitch is a necessity. Perfect pitch is not, but it helps.

    No matter how good your perception is of sound, no matter how good your chops, no matter how many licks and scales you can play, it all comes down to YOU as an artist and how effectively you can move the audience's emotions. People need to work towards THAT more, I definitely agree. Music is all about the intention and feeling. It doesn't matter about all of the other stuff.

    But it helps.

  8. #353
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    I'm with Chris on this. Perfect pitch (correctly termed "absolute pitch") is over-rated. It may help musicians in some ways, but - if you don't have it already - it's not worth the effort of developing it. That time would be far better spent improving relative pitch, which is THE essential musical skill.

    Music is not about absolute pitches, this is the point. The special quality of (say) a C# is of no account whatsoever. It's how it relates to the notes around it that matters.
    The analogy with colour is useful and revealing. Everyone can recognise different colours, even very subtle gradations of hue (well, except the small minority of colour-blind people). For that reason, the way artists use colour matters. (Artists are simply more attuned, or more trained, in relating colours to one another.)
    But very few can recognise specific pitches, so there is no appreciable audience for music that exploits absolute pitch characteristics. No one (apart from someone with AP) cares if a piece is performed in a different key, for example.
    So musicians with AP actually have to FORGET that the key of, say, G is qualitatively different from, say, E. It only has that difference for them. It means nothing to almost anyone listening. (Of course, many people will spot the difference if a piece they are used to in G is performed in E soon afterwards. That's relative pitch. And even if they do spot it - and many won't - it's a trivial or irrelevant difference.)
    If a musician with AP chooses notes or keys because of their individual character (rather than their internal relationships), it will go right over the audience's heads. It's wasted effort.

    I don't know if Jimi Hendrix had AP. IMO, there is no evidence either way in his music. One simply can't tell from any musician's output whether they have AP or not. Therefore it doesn't matter if they do or not.
    What one CAN tell is how good they are at manipulating relative pitches - at putting notes and chords together.

    I'm sure that having AP means you appreciate music in new and different ways. But that's a personal thing, improving your quality of life as a listener. It doesn't improve your ablitiies as a maker of music for others, a communicator. Not unless you are only playing to audiences who also have AP.

    Of course, the process of developing AP must improve your overall aural acuity. That's good - but it's a by-product. And aural acuity can be improved without paying for Burge's or any other course. It improves automatically the more you play music, and the more you listen with attention; and it's pretty easy to find (or develop) exercises to fast-track it if you want to. For free. Focussing on relative pitch, of course, not AP.

  9. #354
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    Can a non-musician know when their favorite song is coming on the radio? Can a non-musician hear a melody and tell you the name? Of course they can. They can even tell you if a note is flat, out-of-place, or sharp, etc. They can tell you if the final note in "Happy Birthday to You" was too high or low. They do not do this by knowing or recognizing the pitches. They do it by comparing the pitch to the other pitches in the sequence. We think in intervals. When we hear music, we hear intervals. The absolute pitch of a note is not used in any of our processing, except for transcription, scoring, or discussions of theory.

    Having "perfect pitch" is utterly useless, unless one wants to market some sort of instruction course for young guitar players (why do trombonists or floutists never have these conversations?) who feel it will give them some sort of bragging rights.

    Put the course down. Pick up your damned guitar.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  10. #355
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    One simply can't tell from any musician's output whether they have AP or not. Therefore it doesn't matter if they do or not.
    Not a full syllogism, but I'll still call this the most accurate and concise logical statment on the topic ever.
    "If a child learns which is jay and which is sparrow, he'll no longer see birds nor hear them sing."

  11. #356
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    I'm with Chris on this. Perfect pitch (correctly termed "absolute pitch") is over-rated. It may help musicians in some ways, but - if you don't have it already - it's not worth the effort of developing it. That time would be far better spent improving relative pitch, which is THE essential musical skill.

    Music is not about absolute pitches, this is the point. The special quality of (say) a C# is of no account whatsoever. It's how it relates to the notes around it that matters.
    The analogy with colour is useful and revealing. Everyone can recognise different colours, even very subtle gradations of hue (well, except the small minority of colour-blind people). For that reason, the way artists use colour matters. (Artists are simply more attuned, or more trained, in relating colours to one another.)
    But very few can recognise specific pitches, so there is no appreciable audience for music that exploits absolute pitch characteristics. No one (apart from someone with AP) cares if a piece is performed in a different key, for example.
    So musicians with AP actually have to FORGET that the key of, say, G is qualitatively different from, say, E. It only has that difference for them. It means nothing to almost anyone listening. (Of course, many people will spot the difference if a piece they are used to in G is performed in E soon afterwards. That's relative pitch. And even if they do spot it - and many won't - it's a trivial or irrelevant difference.)
    If a musician with AP chooses notes or keys because of their individual character (rather than their internal relationships), it will go right over the audience's heads. It's wasted effort.

    I don't know if Jimi Hendrix had AP. IMO, there is no evidence either way in his music. One simply can't tell from any musician's output whether they have AP or not. Therefore it doesn't matter if they do or not.
    What one CAN tell is how good they are at manipulating relative pitches - at putting notes and chords together.

    I'm sure that having AP means you appreciate music in new and different ways. But that's a personal thing, improving your quality of life as a listener. It doesn't improve your ablitiies as a maker of music for others, a communicator. Not unless you are only playing to audiences who also have AP.

    Of course, the process of developing AP must improve your overall aural acuity. That's good - but it's a by-product. And aural acuity can be improved without paying for Burge's or any other course. It improves automatically the more you play music, and the more you listen with attention; and it's pretty easy to find (or develop) exercises to fast-track it if you want to. For free. Focussing on relative pitch, of course, not AP.
    Why not have both relative and perfect pitch? They're completely seperate skills.

    Give me recordings of 3 different players of the same instrument (an instrument that ISN'T electronic, one that requires more active tonemaking) and I am sure I can identify which one has perfect pitch.

    As for your comment about the audience's awareness to absolute pitch, why don't you consider their awareness to relative pitch? They hear if it's high or low. The vast majority of people don't know what a minor second or a tritone is. They just hear it and they like it or not. It's the same way in your case with perfect pitch. You can't intellectualize the experience and so you feel that it isn't something that's picked up by the audience. I believe it is, although I have no "proof" to back it up.


    Hear Foxey Lady? Notice how badass it sounds? It's in F# blues. Immigrant Song? THE heaviest song I've heard in my life. What key is it in? F# minor. Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata Second Movement sounds so incredibly tender and soft. What key is it in? Ab major. Hendrix had perfect pitch. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin had it. Beethoven had it. It takes the subconscious aspect of these tones into the conscious mind of the artist to be manipulated and used. It makes a difference, whether or not you or the audience can intellectualize it. You hear it, you feel it.

  12. #357
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blutwulf
    Having "perfect pitch" is utterly useless, unless one wants to market some sort of instruction course for young guitar players (why do trombonists or floutists never have these conversations?) who feel it will give them some sort of bragging rights.

    Put the course down. Pick up your damned guitar.
    As a matter of fact, I'm a trombonist.

  13. #358
    Ya-Yo-Gak Heyjoe87's Avatar
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    Jimi Hendrix and Steve Vai don't have Perfect Pitch. Vai Admits to having Pefect Relative Pitch on his site (vai.com)

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    Yet he makes beautiful music. Enough said.

  15. #360
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    Quote Originally Posted by timothycshea
    Why not have both relative and perfect pitch?
    Because PP is not much use. (I don't quite agree with Blutwulf it's "utterly" useless.)
    Quote Originally Posted by timothycshea
    Give me recordings of 3 different players of the same instrument (an instrument that ISN'T electronic, one that requires more active tonemaking) and I am sure I can identify which one has perfect pitch.
    So what?
    That sounds like a party trick, almost as much as PP itself is.
    Quote Originally Posted by timothycshea
    As for your comment about the audience's awareness to absolute pitch, why don't you consider their awareness to relative pitch?
    I do! That's the whole point. Everyone has relative pitch. That's how we appreciate music in the first place (along with rhythm and a sense of time of course). That's why musicians need to develop that skill in particular.
    Quote Originally Posted by timothycshea

    Hear Foxey Lady? Notice how badass it sounds? It's in F# blues. Immigrant Song? THE heaviest song I've heard in my life. What key is it in? F# minor. Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata Second Movement sounds so incredibly tender and soft. What key is it in? Ab major. Hendrix had perfect pitch. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin had it. Beethoven had it. It takes the subconscious aspect of these tones into the conscious mind of the artist to be manipulated and used. It makes a difference, whether or not you or the audience can intellectualize it. You hear it, you feel it.
    You do. I don't. The vast majority of people don't.
    You may enjoy those subtle qualities, but they are not available to most people.
    Foxy Lady sounds badass to me too, sure, but not because of its key. (It's quite possible to make a piece of music in F# that is not "badass" at all but quite gentle... And Hendrix would have made FL sound that way in any key - subject only to the range of his voice.)
    The emotional quality of the Pathetique sonata resides in its relative pitch relationships, its melodic shape and harmonies, not to mention its form, tempo, dynamics, etc. It will sound that way played in any key. (OTOH, if you play it in Ab major but play it too fast or too loud, it will obviously lose its "soft, tender" qualities.)

    PP may be useful to you if those connotations inspire you to play more in that mood. Eg, if you think F# is "badass" - or if you think Ab major is "tender" - you are more likely to get into those moods when playing in those keys.
    It's the expression you bring to it (via dynamics, tempo, timbre, articulation, etc) that an audience will recognise, not any character that is in that key already.

    But any good musician can bring those qualities to any piece in any key. Without PP, they have no prior bias. That's a good thing.

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