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Encyclopedia > Program music

Program music is music intended to evoke extra-musical ideas, images in the mind of the listener by musically representing a scene, image or mood [1]. By contrast, absolute music stands for itself and is intended to be appreciated without any particular reference to the outside world. The term is almost exclusively applied to works in the European classical music tradition, particularly those from the Romantic music period of the 19th century, during which the concept was popular, but pieces which fit the description have long been a part of music. The term is usually reserved for purely instrumental works (pieces without singers and lyrics), and not used, for example for Opera or Lieder. For other uses, see Music (disambiguation). ... It is generally agreed that people know and understand the world and reality through the act of naming it; thus, through language and representations (Oxford English Dictionary, cited in Vukcevich 2002). ... Absolute music, less often abstract music, is a term used within the classical music field to describe music that is not explicitly about anything, non-representational or non-objective. ... Classical music is a broad, somewhat imprecise term, referring to music produced in, or rooted in the traditions of, European art, ecclesiastical and concert music, encompassing a broad period from roughly 1000 to the present day. ... The era of Romantic music is defined as the period of European classical music that runs roughly from the early 1800s to the first decade of the 20th century, as well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period. ... The New Opera in Oslo, Norway The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. ... Lied (plural Lieder) is a German word, literally meaning song; among English speakers, however, it is used primarily as a term for European classical music songs, also known as art songs. ...

Contents

History of program music

Renaissance period

Stuff


Baroque period

Probably the most famous work of the Baroque era is Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons a set of four concertos for violin and string orchestra that illustrate the seasons of the year with rain, buzzing flies, chilly winds, treading on ice, dancing peasants, and so on[2]. The program of the work is made explicit in a sequence of four sonnets written by the composer. Another well-known Baroque program work is Johann Sebastian Bach's Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother, BWV 992, whose sections have charming descriptive titles ("Friends gather and try to dissuade him from departing," "They picture the dangers which may befall him," "The Friends' Lament," "Since he cannot be dissuaded, they say farewell," "Aria of the Postilion," "Fugue in Imitation of the Postilion's horn.") Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750 (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). ... Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678 – July 28 or 27, 1741), nicknamed Il Prete Rosso (The Red Priest), was a Venetian priest and baroque music composer, as well as a famous violinist. ... The Four Seasons (Le quattro stagioni in the original Italian) is a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. ... Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch, one of the best-known early Italian sonnet writers. ... Bach in a 1748 portrait by Haussmann Places in which Bach resided throughout his life Johann Sebastian Bach (pronounced ) (21 March 1685 O.S. – 28 July 1750 N.S.) was a prolific German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and solo instruments drew together the...


Classical era

Program music was perhaps less often composed in the Classical era. At this time, perhaps more than any other, music achieved drama from its own internal resources, notably in works written in sonata form. It is thought, however, that a number of Joseph Haydn's earlier symphonies may be program music; for example, the composer once said that one of his earlier symphonies represents "a dialogue between God and the Sinner". It is not known which of his symphonies Haydn was referring to. A minor Classical-era composer, Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, wrote a series of symphonies based on Ovid's Metamorphoses (not to be confused with Twentieth-Century composer Benjamin Britten's Six Metamorphoses after Ovid). The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1730 through 1820, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ... Sonata form is a musical form that has been used widely since the early Classical period. ... Portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792 Franz[1] Joseph Haydn (March 31, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was one of the most prominent composers of the Classical period, and is called by some the Father of the Symphony and Father of the String Quartet. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent... Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (November 2, 1739 – October 24, 1799) was an Austrian composer and violinist. ... Engraved frontispiece of George Sandyss 1632 London edition of Publius Ovidius Naso (Sulmona, March 20, 43 BC – Tomis, now ConstanÅ£a AD 17), a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, wrote on topics of love, abandoned women and mythological transformations. ... // Cover of George Sandyss 1632 edition of Ovids Metamorphosis Englished The Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid is a poem in fifteen books that describes the creation and history of the world in terms according to Greek and Roman points of view. ... Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten, OM CH (November 22, 1913 Lowestoft, Suffolk - December 4, 1976 Aldeburgh, Suffolk) was a British composer, conductor, and pianist. ... English composer Benjamin Britten composed the program music Six Metamorphoses after Ovid (Op. ...


Romantic period

Program music particularly flourished in Romantic era. As it can invoke in the listener a specific experience other than sitting in front of a musician or musicians, it is related to the purely Romantic idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk describing Wagner's Operas as a fusion of many arts (set design, choreography, poetry and so on), although it relies solely on musical aspects to illustrate a multi-faceted artistic concept such as a poem or a painting. Composers believed that the dynamics of sound that were newly possible in the Romantic orchestra of the era allowed them to focus on emotions and other intangible aspects of life much more than during the Baroque or Classical eras. The era of Romantic music is defined as the period of European classical music that runs roughly from the early 1800s to the first decade of the 20th century, as well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period. ... Look up Gesamtkunstwerk in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1730 through 1820, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ...


Ludwig van Beethoven felt a certaian reluctance in writing program music, and said of his 1808 Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral) that the "whole work can be perceived without description – it is more an expression of feelings rather than tone-painting"[3]. Yet the work clearly contains depictions of bird calls, a babbling brook, a storm, and so on. Beethoven later returned to program music with his Piano Sonata Op. 81a, Les Adieux, which depicts the departure and return of his close friend the Archduke Rudolph. 1820 portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler Ludwig van Beethoven (IPA: ), (baptized December 17, 1770[1] – March 26, 1827) was a German composer. ... 1808 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... Ludwig van Beethovens Symphony No. ... Ludwig van Beethovens Piano Sonata No. ... Erzherzog Rudolph of Austria, Fürsterzbischof von Olmütz. ...


Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique was a musical narration of a hyperbolically emotional love story he wrote himself. Franz Liszt did provide explicit programs for many of his piano pieces, but he is also the inventor of the symphonic poem. In 1874, Modest Mussorgsky composed using only the dynamic range of one piano a series of pieces describing seeing a gallery of ten of his friend's paintings and drawings in his Pictures at an Exhibition, later orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. The French composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote many short pieces of program music which he called Tone Poems. His most famous are probably the Danse Macabre and several movements from the Carnival of the Animals. The composer Paul Dukas is perhaps best known for his tone poem The Sorcerer's Apprentice, based on a tale from Goethe. Hector Louis Berlioz (December 11, 1803 – March 8, 1869) was a French Romantic composer best known for the Symphonie fantastique, first performed in 1830, and for his Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem) of 1837, with its tremendous resources that include four antiphonal brass choirs. ... Symphonie Fantastique (Fantastic Symphony) Opus 14, is a symphony written by French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830. ... Franz Liszt (Hungarian: Liszt Ferenc; the surname is pronounced as the English word list, that is ) (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a Hungarian [1] virtuoso pianist and composer of the Romantic period of German descent. ... A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music, in one movement, in which some extra-musical programme provides a narrative or illustrative element. ... Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (Russian: , Modest Petrovič Musorgskij, French: ) (March 9/21, 1839 – March 16/28, 1881), one of the Russian composers known as the Five, was an innovator of Russian music. ... Mussorgsky in 1874 Pictures at an Exhibition (Russian: , Kartínki s výstavki – Vospominániye o Víktore Gártmane, Pictures from an Exhibition – a Remembrance of Viktor Hartmann) is a famous suite of ten piano pieces composed by Modest Mussorgsky in 1874. ... Maurice Ravel in 1912. ... Charles Camille Saint-Saëns () (9 October 1835 – 16 December 1921) was a French composer and performer, best known for his orchestral works The Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre, and Symphony No. ... The Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut, from the Liber chronicarum by Hartmann Schedel. ... The Carnival of the Animals (French: Le carnaval des animaux) is a musical suite of 14 movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. ... Paul Dukas (October 1, 1865-May 17, 1935) was a Parisian-born French composer and teacher of classical music. ... The Sorcerers Apprentice is the English name of both an 1897 symphonic poem by Paul Dukas (Lapprenti sorcier in French), and of a 1797 ballad by Goethe (Der Zauberlehrling in German), which inspired the musical work. ...  , IPA: , (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832), commonly known as Goethe, was a German poet, novelist, theorist, and scientist who is considered one of the giants of the literary world. ...


Possibly the most adept at musical depiction in his program music was the German composer Richard Strauss, whose symphonic poems include Tod und Verklärung (portraying a dying man and his entry into heaven), Don Juan (based on the ancient legend of Don Juan), Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (based on episodes in the career of the legendary German figure Till Eulenspiegel), Don Quixote (portraying episodes in the life of Cervantes' character, Don Quixote), Ein Heldenleben (which depicts episodes in the life of an unnamed hero often taken to be Strauss himself) and Sinfonia Domestica (which portrays episodes in the composer's own married life, including putting the baby to bed). Strauss is reported to have said that music can describe anything, even a teaspoon![1] This article is about the German composer of tone-poems and operas. ... Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration) is a tone poem by Richard Strauss. ... Don Juan with his sword in Don Giovanni, by Chopin Don Juan is a legendary fictional libertine, whose story has been told many times by different authors. ... Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks), Op. ... Till Eulenspiegel IPA: (Low German Dyl Ulenspegel) is a character who originated in Middle Low German oral tradition. ... Don Quixote, Op. ... Cervantes can refer to: Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, 16th-century man of letters Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, a municipality in the Philippines Cervantes, a town in Western Australia Cervantes de Leon, a character in the Soul Calibur series of fighting games This is a... (IPA: , but see spelling and pronunciation below), fully titled (The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha) is an early novel written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. ... Ein Heldenleben (literally A Heroic Life, but usually more loosely translated as A Heros Life), op. ...


One of the most famous programs, because it has never been definitively discovered, is the secret non-musical idea or theme - the "Enigma" - which underlies Edward Elgar's Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma) of 1899. The composer disclosed it to certain friends, but at his request they never made it public. Sir Edward Elgar Sir Edward Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO (2 June 1857 â€“ 23 February 1934) was an English Romantic composer. ...


Twentieth century

In the twentieth century, Alban Berg's Lyric Suite was thought for years to be abstract music, but in 1977 it was discovered that it was in fact dedicated to Hanna Fuchs-Robettin.[2] Important leitmotifs are based the melodic series A–B–H–F, which is their combined initials. The last movement also contains a setting of a poem by Baudelaire, suppressed by the composer for publication [4]. Portrait of Alban Berg by Arnold Schoenberg, c. ... Lyric Suite is a six-movement work for string quartet written by Alban Berg between 1925 and 1926. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Charles Baudelaire Charles Pierre Baudelaire (April 9, 1821–August 31, 1867) was one of the most influential French poets. ...


Popular music as program music

The word "program music" is not used while speaking of popular music. The tradition of purely orchestral program music is continued in pieces for jazz orchestra, most notably several pieces by Duke Ellington. Instrumental pieces in popular music often have a descriptive title which suggests that they could be categorized as program music, and several instrumental albums are completely devoted to some programmatic idea (for example, China by Vangelis or The Songs of Distant Earth by Mike Oldfield). Some genres of popular music are more likely than others to involve programmatic elements; these include ambient, new age, surf rock, jazz fusion, progressive rock, art rock and various genres of techno music. A big band, also known as a jazz orchestra, is a large musical ensemble that plays jazz music, especially Swing. ... Edward Kennedy Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899, Washington, D.C.; d. ... Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (Ευάγγελος Οδυσσέας Παπαθανασίου) [IPA: ] is a world-renowned Greek composer of electronic, New Age and classical music and musical performer, under the artist name Vangelis Papathanassiou (Βαγγέλης Παπαθανασίου) or just Vangelis (a diminutive of Evangelos) [IPA: or ]. He is best known for his Academy Award winning score for the film Chariots of... The Songs of Distant Earth is a music album, written and mostly performed by Mike Oldfield. ... Michael Gordon Oldfield (born May 15, 1953 in Reading, England) is a multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, working a style that blends progressive rock, folk, ethnic or world music, classical music, electronic music and more recently dance. ... Look up Ambient, Ambience in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... New Age describes a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture. ... In the early 1960s, one of the most popular forms of rock and roll was surf rock. ... Bitches Brew (1970) by Miles Davis is considered the most influential early fusion album. ... For the Swedish political music movement, see progg. ... Art rock is a term used by some to describe rock music that is characterized by ambitious or avant-garde lyrical themes and/or melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic experimentation, often extending beyond standard modern popular music forms and genres, toward influences in jazz, classical, world music or the experimental avant... Techno is a form of electronic dance music that became prominent in Detroit, Michigan (some argue that it may have been born in Europe) during the mid-1980s with influences from Chicago House, electro, New Wave, Funk and futuristic fiction themes that were prevalent and relative to modern culture during...


Progressive rock groups and musicians during the 1970's in particular experimented with program music, the most musically successful of which was probably Rush's Jacob's Ladder (1980), which shows clear influences of Smetana's Má vlast ("My Homeland") (1874-1879). Rush is a Canadian rock band comprising bassist, keyboardist, and vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. ... The introduction to this article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject matter. ... Portrait of BedÅ™ich Smetana BedÅ™ich Smetana (pronounced ; 2 March 1824 - 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer. ... Má vlast (traditionally translated as My Country or more literally My Fatherland) is a set of six symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879 by the Czech composer BedÅ™ich Smetana. ...


Is all music program music?

Some people and theories argue that there is indeed no such thing as true "absolute music" and that music always at least conveys or evokes emotions. While non-professional listeners often claim that music has meaning (to them), "new" musicologists, such as Susan McClary (1999), argue that so called "abstract" techniques and structures are actually highly politically and socially charged, specifically, even gendered. This may be linked to a more general argument against abstraction, such as Mark Johnson's argument that it is, "necessary...for abstract meaning...to have a bodily basis." (McClary, 1991) However, a more loosely specific definition of absolute music as music which was not composed with a programatic intent or plan in mind may be adopted. The New Musicology is a term applied to a wide body of work produced by many musicologists who consider themselves and their musicology neither new nor New. ... Susan McClary (born 2 October 1946) is a musicologist considered to be a significant figure in the New Musicology. She is noted for her work combining musicology and feminism. ... Mark L. Johnson is Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. ...


More traditional listeners often reject these views sharply, asserting that music can be meaningful, as well as deeply emotional, while being essentially about itself (notes, themes, keys, and so on), and without any connection to the political and societal conflicts of our own day.


As such, most classical music is absolute music, as is suggested by titles which often consist simply of the type of composition, a numerical designation within the composer's oeuvre, and its key. Bach's Concerto for Two Harpsichords in C Minor, BWV 1060; Mozart's Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 545, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major (Opus 92) are all examples of absolute music. Bach in a 1748 portrait by Haussmann Places in which Bach resided throughout his life Johann Sebastian Bach (pronounced ) (21 March 1685 O.S. – 28 July 1750 N.S.) was a prolific German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and solo instruments drew together the... Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) was one of the most significant and influential of all composers of Western classical music. ... The Piano Sonata in C major, K. 545 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is possibly his most famous piano sonata. ... 1820 portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler Ludwig van Beethoven (IPA: ), (baptized December 17, 1770[1] – March 26, 1827) was a German composer. ... Ludwig van Beethoven began concentrated work on his Symphony No. ...


Program music was quite popular during the Romantic era. Many mainstream "classical" works are unequivocally program music, such as Richard Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, which is a musical description of ascending and descending a mountain, with 22 section titles such as "Night," "Sunrise," "By the Waterfall," "In Thicket and Underbrush on the Wrong Path," "Summit," "Mists Rise," and "Storm and Descent." Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 is clearly program music, too, with titled movements and instrumental depictions of bird calls, country dances, and a storm. Some might criticize Disney's animators for providing a pictorial interpretation of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, but nobody can deny an extramusical association for Dukas's The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The era of Romantic music is defined as the period of European classical music that runs roughly from the early 1800s to the first decade of the 20th century, as well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period. ... This article is about the German composer of tone-poems and operas. ... 1820 portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler Ludwig van Beethoven (IPA: ), (baptized December 17, 1770[1] – March 26, 1827) was a German composer. ... Ludwig van Beethovens Symphony No. ... Paul Dukas (October 1, 1865-May 17, 1935) was a Parisian-born French composer and teacher of classical music. ... The Sorcerers Apprentice is the English name of both an 1897 symphonic poem by Paul Dukas (Lapprenti sorcier in French), and of a 1797 ballad by Goethe (Der Zauberlehrling in German), which inspired the musical work. ...


During the twentieth century, the increased influence of modernism and other anti-Romantic trends contributed to a decline in esteem for program music, but audiences continued to enjoy such pieces as Arthur Honegger's depiction of a steam locomotive in Pacific 231. Indeed, Percy Grainger's incomplete orchestral fragment Train Music employs the same function. This music for large orchestra depicts a train moving in the mountains of Italy. Arthur Honegger in 1921. ... Pacific 231 is an orchestral work by Arthur Honegger, written in 1923. ... Percy Aldridge Grainger (8 July 1882 – 20 February 1961) was an Australian-born pianist, composer, and champion of the saxophone and the Concert band. ... Train Music is a piece of music for orchestra written by the Australian composer Percy Grainger. ...


Music that is composed to accompany opera and ballet is, of course, program music, even when presented separately as a concert piece. Aaron Copland was amused when a listener said that when she listened to Appalachian Spring she "could see the Appalachians and feel Spring," the title having been a last-minute thought, but it is certainly program music. Film scores are always program music, and some of them, such as Prokofiev's music for Alexander Nevsky, have found a place in the classical concert repertoire. Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American composer of concert and film music. ... Appalachian Spring is a ballet score by Aaron Copland that premiered in October 1944, and achieved widespread popularity as an orchestral suite. ... Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (Russian: , Sergej Sergeevič Prokof(i)ev; April 121, 1891–June 28, 1953) was a Russian and Soviet composer who mastered numerous musical genres and came to be admired as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. ... Statue in Pereslavl, just in front of the cathedral Alexander was baptised in. ...


And, of course, there is music that falls in between, with titles that clearly suggest an extramusical association, but no detailed story that can be followed and no musical passages that can be unequivocally identified with specific images. Examples would include Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, From the New World or Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica. Antonín Dvořák Antonín Leopold Dvořák ( ; September 8, 1841 – May 1, 1904) was a Czech composer of Romantic music, who employed the idioms and melodies of the folk-music of his native Bohemia in symphonic and chamber music. ... The Symphony No. ... Eroica Symphony Title Page The Symphony No. ...


In popular music, by contrast, the norm is programmatic music, usually vocal. A common term for non-vocal popular music, and thus for practical purposes a term for absolute music in a popular context, is "instrumental" or "instrumental section".


While the debate is of interest to many, for practical purposes most scholars use the term "program music" in the narrower sense described above.


Program music lives on in movie soundtracks, which often feature ultra-modern sounding atonal programmatic music. // In film formats, the sound track is the physical area of the film which records the synchronized sound. ...


Symphonic poems

Single movement orchestral pieces of program music are often called symphonic poems. A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music, in one movement, in which some extra-musical programme provides a narrative or illustrative element. ...


See also

Program music is a term usually applied to orchestral music in the classical music tradition in which the piece is designed according to some preconceived narrative, or is designed to evoke a specific concrete idea. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ...

Sources

  • Encyclopedia.com: Program music
  • Essentials of Music: Composers: Vivaldi
  • Apollo's Fire (Cleveland Baroque Orchestra): Program Note for: Beethoven & Schubert in Vienna
  • AllMusicGuide Review of Alban Berg's Lyric Suite, for string quartet by James Reel
  • Amazon.com: Review of Alban Berg: Lyric Suite by Kronos Quarter with Dawn Upshaw
  • McClary, Susan (1991). Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality, p.24. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-1898-4.

Further reading

  • Junod, Philippe. "The New Paragone: Paradoxes and Contradictions of Pictorial Musicalism" in Morton and Schmunk, p.28-29.

External links

  • Art of the States: programmatic programmatic works by American composers
  • Information on The Kaidan Suite, a musical interpretation of Japanese ghost stories by the Kitsune Ensemble.

Notes

  1. ^ Richard Strauss Biography. Retrieved on 2006-04-26.
  2. ^ Perle, George (1985). The Operas of Alban Berg: Volume Two, Lulu. California: University of California Press, 18-29. ISBN 0-520-06616-2. 

  Results from FactBites:
 
NationMaster - Encyclopedia: Program music (0 words)
Program music is music intended to evoke extra-musical ideas, images in the mind of the listener by musically representing a scene, image or mood [1].
The era of Romantic music is defined as the period of European classical music that runs roughly from the early 1800s to the first decade of the 20th century, as well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period.
Genres of popular music that often have music that could be seen as program music include ambient, new age, surf rock, jazz fusion, progressive rock, art rock and various genres of techno music.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Program Music (0 words)
Strictly speaking, however, the presence of this kind of imitation does not, by itself, make a piece “programmatic.” The underlying theory of program music, as described by the man who coined the term, the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt (1811–1886), is that the composer must allow the program to determine the actual form of the piece.
Program music wasn't more popular than other kinds of music: none of the Romantic composers wrote program music exclusively, some went no further than the occasional picturesque title, and some, like Johannes Brahms (1833–1897), wrote virtually no program music.
One of the more heated critical and philosophical debates of the nineteenth century was the one between the proponents of program music and those who favored so-called “absolute music,” music whose appeal is made in “strictly musical” terms.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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