Page 1 of 3
#1
I've been playing guitar for nearly 2 years now. When I started I got the usual info given to beginners, one thing being "learn scales"... so for about 2 weeks I practised scales and then I quit because I didn't see the point.

From then on I just spent all my practice time on learning chords, learning how to do harmonics, string skipping, power chords, tremolo picking, alternate picking, and some other techniques. I also did some finger strengthening exercises and some finger stretching exercises.

After all this time I still don't get the point. Did I really miss some vital part of guitar training? I doubt it.

Oh yeah forgot to add. Some people say it's to strengthen yourself but you can just do exercises for that (not necessarily scales). Some have said it helps with accuracy but so does teaching yourself a song you like with melodic parts or solos.
"Happiness is... a bottle of booze in one hand and my faithful guitar in the other hand."

E. Guitar: Epiphone Goth Explorer
Schecter Diamond Series Damien 7
Cl. Guitar: Höfner HF-12
Amp: Roland Cube 40XL
Last edited by Akula KO at Nov 26, 2012,
#2
Every other example of things that you've mentioned that you've practiced are techniques. Things that help you play. Scales are not techniques. They are knowledge. Music theory. They help you write music, not play it.
#3
Scales are bad, don't play solos you might use one.
#4
^ You are such a bad troll.

Quote by Macabre_Turtle
Every other example of things that you've mentioned that you've practiced are techniques. Things that help you play. Scales are not techniques. They are knowledge. Music theory. They help you write music, not play it.


This, and scales can help you with ear training, and learning songs faster.
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#5
scales are sets of pitch intervals used to construct chords, write melodies, etc.


Knowing and understanding how to use the major/minor scales is fundamental for writing music, imo.


^"ear/learn songs faster/etc"


Because essentially every song ever written uses the same scale(or scales derived from it), you can know how to play any song you hear without even touching the guitar.

pretty ****in handy if i do say so myself.


also, id like to see you attempt to improvise without knowing scales.


theory is what separates a douche-bag with an acoustic guitar singing songs over the same 3 chords and a talented musician.
Last edited by rickyj at Nov 26, 2012,
#6
OP. Start by learning the major scale and the minor scale. I mean, knowing how to find them on the fretboard (being able to play any given major or minor key I suggest anywhere on the fretboard). And I don't just mean do exercises with them. Write music with them. Pick some chords that fit in a scale, write some melodies that fit the scale, go on from there.

All of music knowledge (including why chords are named the way they are) will stem from there.
#7
Knowing scales can also help you understand just what the heck someone mught be playing too.
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#8
if you're not writing, just knowing all the modes of the mjaor scale are very useful for quickly learning new solos or lead guitar parts. Its easier to learn them if you're familiar with the patterns theyre built around
#9
Quote by shred_wizzard
if you're not writing, just knowing all the modes of the mjaor scale are very useful for quickly learning new solos or lead guitar parts. Its easier to learn them if you're familiar with the patterns theyre built around



NO! Do not even whisper the word modes around beginners. OP, forget you ever heard the word mode. Just. No.
#10
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
NO! Do not even whisper the word modes around beginners. OP, forget you ever heard the word mode. Just. No.


You're not TS's mom! Don't try to protect him from the truth!

Honestly, this is something i don't get about guitar players these days, i saw a doctor who spent 4 years in uni and 4 years as an intern to become a doctor, he plays guitar, but he's too lazy to learn music theory, even though he wants to write his own music.

I mean fuck, why are guiar players so lazy these days?
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#11
Scales are the basis for everything. Chords are made from the notes of scales. Solos use scales (generally). Theoretically, you don't actually need scales to play, but if you learn them, everything will be easier and you will have a better understanding of what you're playing and how music works.


Quote by shred_wizzard
if you're not writing, just knowing all the modes of the mjaor scale are very useful for quickly learning new solos or lead guitar parts. Its easier to learn them if you're familiar with the patterns theyre built around

You're an idiot. Modes are virtually useless, especially in this case since TS doesn't fully understand and know scales. Modes have no place in music unless you have a very, VERY, VERY, good understanding of at least the major scale.
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#12
Quote by adamgur96
You're not TS's mom! Don't try to protect him from the truth!

Honestly, this is something i don't get about guitar players these days, i saw a doctor who spent 4 years in uni and 4 years as an intern to become a doctor, he plays guitar, but he's too lazy to learn music theory, even though he wants to write his own music.

I mean fuck, why are guiar players so lazy these days?



....who exactly are you calling lazy, dude?
#13
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
....who exactly are you calling lazy, dude?


TS and guitar players who are too lazy to learn theory.
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#14
Quote by adamgur96
TS and guitar players who are too lazy to learn theory.


I see... I agree that all guitar players should certainly learn their theory, but it doesn't look like OP didn't learn theory because he's lazy. He looks like hasn't learned theory because he didn't know it was a thing. It seems that scale were shown to him as being nothing but little box shaped finger exercises and the idea that there was more to it was just not brought up to him.
#15
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
I see... I agree that all guitar players should certainly learn their theory, but it doesn't look like OP didn't learn theory because he's lazy. He looks like hasn't learned theory because he didn't know it was a thing. It seems that scale were shown to him as being nothing but little box shaped finger exercises and the idea that there was more to it was just not brought up to him.


yeah, my bad..... Well, TS is just a little ignorant about music theory.

It just pisses me off when i see players who want to learn but don't wanna learn theory.
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#16
Quote by adamgur96
TS and guitar players who are too lazy to learn theory.



Modes aren't something you need to learn right away. Someone learning their scales should start off with the basics of pentatonic minor, pentatonic major and the major scale. Work on that for awhile and digest it, then maybe start integrating modes. Not everyone needs to learn modes.

I can show you any number of high earning guitar players who know zilch about theory. Yet, they are able to play, sound good and sell CDs. Why? Because they know what sounds good. They have a good ear. There is certainly nothing wrong with learning theory - it can certainly help you understand and explain things, however it is not absolutely necessary that a musician learn theory. And not learning theory does not make someone lazy.
#17
Quote by KG6_Steven

I can show you any number of high earning guitar players who know zilch about theory. Yet, they are able to play, sound good and sell CDs. Why? Because they know what sounds good. They have a good ear. There is certainly nothing wrong with learning theory - it can certainly help you understand and explain things, however it is not absolutely necessary that a musician learn theory. And not learning theory does not make someone lazy.


Woah woah waoh, man. I agree that modes are something that should be way off in the distance, and I agree that not knowing theory doesn't make someone lazy, but please, don't try to convince people that neglecting theory can be a good thing. There are plenty of highly successful guitar players who never learn theory, yes, but the truth is, every single one of them would benefit from learning it, and when people go citing things like "Jimi Hendrix didn't learn theory," or "Slash doesn't know theory" (just examples, they probably do), it misleads noobs into thinking they have a good excuse to skip something that would be helping them.

Sure, you can become great without theory, but truthfully, you're just making it harder on yourself if you skip it.
#18
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
Woah woah waoh, man. I agree that modes are something that should be way off in the distance, and I agree that not knowing theory doesn't make someone lazy, but please, don't try to convince people that neglecting theory can be a good thing. There are plenty of highly successful guitar players who never learn theory, yes, but the truth is, every single one of them would benefit from learning it, and when people go citing things like "Jimi Hendrix didn't learn theory," or "Slash doesn't know theory" (just examples, they probably do), it misleads noobs into thinking they have a good excuse to skip something that would be helping them.

Sure, you can become great without theory, but truthfully, you're just making it harder on yourself if you skip it.


Couldn't have said it better.
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Don't worry, rape will always find a back way in
#19
Quote by Akula KO
I've been playing guitar for nearly 2 years now. When I started I got the usual info given to beginners, one thing being "learn scales"... so for about 2 weeks I practised scales and then I quit because I didn't see the point.

From then on I just spent all my practice time on learning chords, learning how to do harmonics, string skipping, power chords, tremolo picking, alternate picking, and some other techniques. I also did some finger strengthening exercises and some finger stretching exercises.

After all this time I still don't get the point. Did I really miss some vital part of guitar training? I doubt it.

Oh yeah forgot to add. Some people say it's to strengthen yourself but you can just do exercises for that (not necessarily scales). Some have said it helps with accuracy but so does teaching yourself a song you like with melodic parts or solos.

Mate, give up, yeah? Just stick to your white wine, candles 'n' shit.
#20
I'm arguing both sides of the fence on this one. I learned music theory as a part of my lessons. I thoroughly enjoyed it - even now I love theory. One of the things my instructor told me is that it's hard for him to find students who want to learn the mechanics of music. One of the arguments against learning theory is - why should I learn to fix the car, when all I want to do is drive it? See the parallel? And that's true. And it's probably why my wife describes car problems in a way only my wife can describe car problems.

I've also taught guitar and found that most students have no interest in learning theory. Were they lazy? No. They just wanted to learn how to play and devote their time to that and nothing else. Personally, I find it helps me understand the songs I'm playing - especially in playing lead.

The place I work occasionally posts job openings. Some of the openings require a certain college degree, or they'll also accept a certain number of years experience. You mentioned Slash and Hendrix. I look at someone like that as having the experience and the ear and not needing the theory as much. Would they have benefited from having theory knowledge? That's hard to say, as they were fairly successful. I tend to see them as an exception. Could Hendrix explain why something sounded so good? I doubt it. Did he need to be able to explain? I doubt it.

In reference to theory, Charlie Parker once said, "Learn all you can, then forget all of it." If you think about it, he's right. All of that theory does you absolutely no good if you can't play. So, my advice? Take it for the price it cost you... Learn a little theory - learn chord construction and scale formulas and a few other things, but don't get so hung up on theory that you can't play the music and make it sound good. Use your ear. Make music. When you're up on stage and playing, you won't be thinking about which note is diminished, which is the tonic, whether or not this chord is diatonic and whether or not the D7 chord is built from the dominant of the G scale. Probably one of the most valuable things you can learn is the notes on the neck of your guitar. Learn them all. Memorize them forward and backward.

Now, I'm going back to reading my theory book. Yes, I own two or three of them.
#21
In response to that post....

Absolutely learn your theory. Unless you don't want to write music. Then don't bother.

I think that's fair.
#22
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
In response to that post....

Absolutely learn your theory. Unless you don't want to write music. Then don't bother.

I think that's fair.

Or don't want to understand anything about what you're playing.

Without any theory knowledge you're no more a musician than a talking parrot is a public speaker...they can reproduce the sounds but they have no comprehension of what those sounds mean.
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#23
Quote by steven seagull
Or don't want to understand anything about what you're playing.

Without any theory knowledge you're no more a musician than a talking parrot is a public speaker...they can reproduce the sounds but they have no comprehension of what those sounds mean.


I thought I had established this point pretty well, really.
#24
Quote by rickyj
Because essentially every song ever written uses the same scale(or scales derived from it), you can know how to play any song you hear without even touching the guitar.

theory is what separates a douche-bag with an acoustic guitar singing songs over the same 3 chords and a talented musician.


Okay firstly screw you for essentially calling me a douchebag with a guitar. Secondly I manage just fine figuring out how a song is played without scales.


Quote by mdc
Mate, give up, yeah? Just stick to your white wine, candles 'n' shit.

Why give up all the abilities I've worked hard to get down? And what's wrong with wine and candles?

@KG6_Steven I like your answer. It's well thought out. I especially like your car metaphor. I'm essentially interested in the driving part.

Quote by Macabre_Turtle
it doesn't look like OP didn't learn theory because he's lazy. He looks like hasn't learned theory because he didn't know it was a thing. It seems that scale were shown to him as being nothing but little box shaped finger exercises and the idea that there was more to it was just not brought up to him.

I am certainly not lazy but I do have short patience for things I see no point in developing though I see now some point in scales. It is as you have said about how scales were shown to me. No doubt I could learn something if I tried to learn theory but frankly I still feel that if I sit down with my guitar and think and mess around I can come up with decent melodies and interesting riffs which are basically the things I care for most about.

Quote by steven seagull
Or don't want to understand anything about what you're playing.

Without any theory knowledge you're no more a musician than a talking parrot is a public speaker...they can reproduce the sounds but they have no comprehension of what those sounds mean.

I suppose on reflection I am a parrot but I'm a parrot that can make stuff up too. I'm not so mindless that I cannot take what I've learned and create something new with it.


*

Anyway thanks everybody for what you've posted even if it is to describe me as a musical Neanderthal. I will take a look at scales this week and read up more on the benefits of developing my musical theory. I still maintain that it is possible to make new guitar music just by taking what you've learned through observation, taking techniques you have learned and improvising and developing it into something new.

Thanks.
"Happiness is... a bottle of booze in one hand and my faithful guitar in the other hand."

E. Guitar: Epiphone Goth Explorer
Schecter Diamond Series Damien 7
Cl. Guitar: Höfner HF-12
Amp: Roland Cube 40XL
Last edited by Akula KO at Nov 27, 2012,
#25
Quote by Akula KO

I am certainly not lazy but I do have short patience for things I see no point in developing though I see now some point in scales. It is as you have said about how scales were shown to me. No doubt I could learn something if I tried to learn theory but frankly I still feel that if I sit down with my guitar and think and mess around I can come up with decent melodies and interesting riffs which are basically the things I care for most about.

Anyway thanks everybody for what you've posted even if it is to describe me as a musical Neanderthal. I will take a look at scales this week and read up more on the benefits of developing my musical theory. I still maintain that it is possible to make new guitar music just by taking what you've learned through observation, taking techniques you have learned and improvising and developing it into something new.

Thanks.


Well, I'm glad that not having learned theory came out of misunderstanding and not out of laziness. And yes, anybody can come up with decent melodies and interesting riffs, but if you're interested in doing that (coming up with your own stuff) then music theory will only open up hundreds of doors for you.

I'm glad you're choosing to look into it anyway, but please, don't go into it with the attitude that if it doesn't end up being interesting or beneficial right away then its not worth doing. You sound like you're halfway talking yourself out of learning it while trying to learn it at the same time, and that mindset is going to be very detrimental to you.

Some people will tell you that learning music theory will hold back your creativity, and those people are wrong. A wise man once said music theory is descriptive, not prescriptive. First you learn the 'rules,' and then through observation you learn how to break them. The first major leap in my song writing abilities was when I learned how to properly use scales. My second major leap was when I learned how to stop thinking about those scales. I'm just rambling now, sorry...

#26
Quote by KG6_Steven
I'm arguing both sides of the fence on this one. I learned music theory as a part of my lessons. I thoroughly enjoyed it - even now I love theory. One of the things my instructor told me is that it's hard for him to find students who want to learn the mechanics of music. One of the arguments against learning theory is - why should I learn to fix the car, when all I want to do is drive it? See the parallel? And that's true. And it's probably why my wife describes car problems in a way only my wife can describe car problems.

I've also taught guitar and found that most students have no interest in learning theory. Were they lazy? No. They just wanted to learn how to play and devote their time to that and nothing else. Personally, I find it helps me understand the songs I'm playing - especially in playing lead.

The place I work occasionally posts job openings. Some of the openings require a certain college degree, or they'll also accept a certain number of years experience. You mentioned Slash and Hendrix. I look at someone like that as having the experience and the ear and not needing the theory as much. Would they have benefited from having theory knowledge? That's hard to say, as they were fairly successful. I tend to see them as an exception. Could Hendrix explain why something sounded so good? I doubt it. Did he need to be able to explain? I doubt it.

In reference to theory, Charlie Parker once said, "Learn all you can, then forget all of it." If you think about it, he's right. All of that theory does you absolutely no good if you can't play. So, my advice? Take it for the price it cost you... Learn a little theory - learn chord construction and scale formulas and a few other things, but don't get so hung up on theory that you can't play the music and make it sound good. Use your ear. Make music. When you're up on stage and playing, you won't be thinking about which note is diminished, which is the tonic, whether or not this chord is diatonic and whether or not the D7 chord is built from the dominant of the G scale. Probably one of the most valuable things you can learn is the notes on the neck of your guitar. Learn them all. Memorize them forward and backward.

Now, I'm going back to reading my theory book. Yes, I own two or three of them.
not knowing theory isnt so much not knowing how to fix a car, its more like driving at dusk with your headlights off. I mean if you know the way your going to be OK, but if you go down a road you dont know your really limited.

To me thats theory in a nutshell. Its like a language. You dont need to know how to read and write to be a great singer or even give a great speach or talk to others but its sure easier to share ideas and understand words a lot better isnt it?

Also I cant think of any idea more bastardized around here than listing great musicians who didnt study theory and saying well this guy didnt need it. Hendrix didnt use theory? Really?
he of tranquil mind
#27
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
I'm glad you're choosing to look into it anyway, but please, don't go into it with the attitude that if it doesn't end up being interesting or beneficial right away then its not worth doing. You sound like you're halfway talking yourself out of learning it while trying to learn it at the same time, and that mindset is going to be very detrimental to you.


I will give it an honest try. I do realize that with many things you have to go through tedious things before the fun begins.

"Happiness is... a bottle of booze in one hand and my faithful guitar in the other hand."

E. Guitar: Epiphone Goth Explorer
Schecter Diamond Series Damien 7
Cl. Guitar: Höfner HF-12
Amp: Roland Cube 40XL
#28
Quote by steven seagull
Or don't want to understand anything about what you're playing.

Without any theory knowledge you're no more a musician than a talking parrot is a public speaker...they can reproduce the sounds but they have no comprehension of what those sounds mean.


Wait, so unless you know theory you can't be a musician? That is one of the most ridiculous things I have seen posted on here and from a guy who's posts are usually good.
#29
Quote by Akula KO
I am certainly not lazy but I do have short patience for things I see no point in developing though I see now some point in scales. It is as you have said about how scales were shown to me. No doubt I could learn something if I tried to learn theory but frankly I still feel that if I sit down with my guitar and think and mess around I can come up with decent melodies and interesting riffs which are basically the things I care for most about.


I think that's where theory is going to be the most beneficial for you. Yes it is a very great feeling to sit down and mess around and write something, but a musician that knows basic music theory (and has a good ear, of course) will be able to INSTANTLY play it. They would be able to think of an idea without a guitar in their hands and know how to play it on guitar in their minds eye 100% accurately.
An even more educated musician would be able to write it down without a guitar in their hands. And at the highest level you have the people who can notate entire hour long symphonies in their head onto staff paper without touching an instrument. Reaching a level like this is impossible without knowing music theory.
So i guess it depends on your goals, really.
#30
Quote by J_W
Wait, so unless you know theory you can't be a musician? That is one of the most ridiculous things I have seen posted on here and from a guy who's posts are usually good.


Yeah I thought that too, in Dave Mustaine's book he basically says he knows how to play what he wants on guitar but doesn't know how to explain it through theory. I'd say Dave Mustaine is absolutely a musician.
#31
Quote by macashmack
I think that's where theory is going to be the most beneficial for you. Yes it is a very great feeling to sit down and mess around and write something, but a musician that knows basic music theory (and has a good ear, of course) will be able to INSTANTLY play it. They would be able to think of an idea without a guitar in their hands and know how to play it on guitar in their minds eye 100% accurately.
An even more educated musician would be able to write it down without a guitar in their hands. And at the highest level you have the people who can notate entire hour long symphonies in their head onto staff paper without touching an instrument. Reaching a level like this is impossible without knowing music theory.
So i guess it depends on your goals, really.


This. My writing used to rely on me sitting and fiddling with my guitar making random guesses until I got something pleasant. Now I write 90% of my music in Guitar Pro without ever touching an instrument. This is fantastic because frankly, my imagination is more limited when I'm holding the guitar (this might just be me), and also, it allows you to write things that you can't play yet, motivating you to get better.
#32
The benefits of learning scales in terms of ear training can't be stressed enough. There's a reason why a lot of 'feel' players with amazing ears for music still stick to common harmonies and scales, and that's because those sounds are ingrained in their minds because of their prevalence in Western music. I come up with a lot of my best ideas from just messing around with no real aim, but being able to hear multiple options and knowing exactly how to execute them has opened up my writing in ways I'd never imagine.

Theory won't make a bad musician great, but it would make a great musician better.
#33
imho scales are not just theory. they physically get you accustomed to patterns you'll use extensively in playing solos. if i had to learn every solo note by note i would be very frustrated. when i want to learn a new solo based on a major/minor scale, i know the notes to play beforehand, and i can only focus on the techniques involved.
op probably hasn't started studying lead guitar yet

QUESTION: what do you mean by "mode"? do you mean just the pattern?
im asking because i can play all the seven patterns of the major/minor scale, and i find those very useful in playing other people's stuff, but totally useless in improvising/writing. i mean, i've always seen modes as different ways to play the same notes, i never quite got the big deal some people seem to make out of it.

when you guy suggest to "learn scales", do you imply learning just the first pattern (the one starting on the first degree), or you mean all the notes of the scale throughout the whole neck (which means learning all the modes)?
#34
Quote by astholkohtz


QUESTION: what do you mean by "mode"? do you mean just the pattern?
im asking because i can play all the seven patterns of the major/minor scale, and i find those very useful in playing other people's stuff, but totally useless in improvising/writing. i mean, i've always seen modes as different ways to play the same notes, i never quite got the big deal some people seem to make out of it.

when you guy suggest to "learn scales", do you imply learning just the first pattern (the one starting on the first degree), or you mean all the notes of the scale throughout the whole neck (which means learning all the modes)?


Personally, I only use modes as a nifty little tool that helps me visualize one key throughout the guitar. This in truth has nothing to do with modes, but I'm mean knowing the patterns and how they connect just helps me visualize.
The problem is, a) Modes are not just different ways to play the same notes at all. The idea is much much more complicated than that and b) that's why we make a big deal out of it. Don't use the word 'mode' around beginners because beginners, especially with guitar where practically nobody learns their theory right the first time, will think that modes are just regular old scales and they're bound to go on rampages asking about what mode they're writing in when they are really miles away from understanding it.

And "learning scales" means being able to comfortably and quickly find the scale any place on the neck. If you've truly learned the major scale, then when I say 'play the C major scale' you should be able to do it anywhere. And not just because you've memorized guitar specific fret patterns, but because you know the intervals that the scale is built on.
#35
can anyone link me some guide about that complicated idea behind modes? i remember looking into it and not finding anything. i'd love to learn more, because modes are a tool i halready have and i'd like to know their advanced use.
#36
Quote by astholkohtz
can anyone link me some guide about that complicated idea behind modes? i remember looking into it and not finding anything. i'd love to learn more, because modes are a tool i halready have and i'd like to know their advanced use.


They're cool if you want to lay down a repeating I-bVII and just solo mixolydian over it or something, but if you want to write music that doesn't sound like a backing track, then learn about tonal harmony
#37
Quote by astholkohtz
can anyone link me some guide about that complicated idea behind modes? i remember looking into it and not finding anything. i'd love to learn more, because modes are a tool i halready have and i'd like to know their advanced use.


Personally, I don't know how to actually write modal music, but it seems that people that think they are writing modal music usually really aren't. You are probably in the same boat that I am, really. I know my modes, and I use them in my writing, but I'm really just using them as scales rather than modes. For instance, When I write a song that's in the key of lets say, E minor, and it makes extensive use of the minor 2nd interval, I say that I'm writing the song in E Phrygian, but really I'm just using it as a scale. My music is still tonal, not modal.
#38
you probably misunderstood me. i wasn't asking for a suggestion on which approach i should apply to improvising/songwriting. i was asking if you've read something nice to read about modes, since i cant seem to find anything useful related on the internet
#39
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
Personally, I don't know how to actually write modal music, but it seems that people that think they are writing modal music usually really aren't. You are probably in the same boat that I am, really. I know my modes, and I use them in my writing, but I'm really just using them as scales rather than modes. For instance, When I write a song that's in the key of lets say, E minor, and it makes extensive use of the minor 2nd interval, I say that I'm writing the song in E Phrygian, but really I'm just using it as a scale. My music is still tonal, not modal.


me too, exactly! thing is, some people seem to be literally in love with modes, i'd like to know why. and i've never found any useful resource on the topic
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