This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores a Key of A Major Melodic Workout (A Major Modes, Inverted Melodic Arpeggios, and Rhythmic Melodic Lines).
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Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play a Key of A Major Melodic Workout. In this Jazz Piano Lesson, you will:
A Key of A Major Melodic Workout
How to "think" within the Key of A Major, Melodically
The Modes of the Key of A Major plus Inverted Melodic Arpeggios from various entry points (Root, 3rd, 5th, 7th).
You will play Melodic lines using various 8th Note Rhythmic Configurations played over the II-V-I Progression.
Use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson for maximum musical growth. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while doing a Key of E Major Melodic Workout.
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Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:32
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Well, last week, we tackled the key of A major, focusing on harmonic development. This week,
we continue our exploration of the key of A major, but we do so melodically. So today you're going to discover a key of A major melodic workout. And you're going to learn how to think within the key of A major melodically. And you're going to play the modes of the key of A major using ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion, launching from various entry points, root, third, fifth, seventh. And you're going to play melodic lines over the 251 progression in the key of A major using various rhythms common to jazz, focusing primarily on the dotted eighth 16th Note combination. So as I always like to say, regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a rank beginner, an intermediate player, an advanced player, even if you consider yourself a seasoned and experienced professional, you're gonna find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring a key of A major melodic workout to be enormously beneficial. But before we jump into our key of A major melodic workout, I want to take a moment to welcome all new listeners to the jazz piano skills podcast. If you are new to jazz piano skills, first-time listener then I want to welcome you. And I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. All you have to do visit jazz piano skills.com. Once you arrive at the homepage, you can spend a little time poking around exploring the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials, and services that are available for you, waiting for you to help you significantly improve your jazz piano skills. For example, as a jazz panel skills member, you have access to all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets, and the play alongs. And these are educational tools that I develop, produce and publish for every weekly podcast episode, you're going to want to have these educational resources in your hand as you listen to this podcast episode, and you certainly want to have them sitting on your piano when practicing you also as a jazz piano skills member have access to the online sequential jazz piano curriculum. Now this curriculum is loaded with comprehensive courses all of them using a self-paced format. There are educational talks for you to enjoy interactive, mediate texture test your conceptual understanding of the jazz panel skills. There are video demonstrations in all 12 keys of the piano skill that is being taught within the course, there are play alongs and much more. You also as a jazz piano skills member have as I like to say a reserved seat in the online weekly master classes, which are in essence, a one-hour lesson with me each and every week. You also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the online interactive Fakebook, which grants you access to jazz standards from the Great American Songbook. You can enjoy the chord changes lead sheets, our harmonic functional lead sheets, play along files, historical insights, inspirational recordings, and much more. It's an ever-growing collection of tunes that you should absolutely discover, learn and play. You also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the online jazz piano skills community. This is a community that hosts a variety of engaging forums there are podcasts-specific forums, course-specific forums. And, of course, there are just general jazz piano forums as well. You have access to all of the forums, and you will be able to contribute to them. In fact, I encourage you to engage, share and grow. And last but certainly not least, you have access to unlimited private it personal, and professional educational support provided by me whenever and as often as you need it. So, again, take a few minutes visit jazz panel skills.com To learn more about all the educational opportunities that await you and how to activate your membership quickly. Now, there are several membership plans to choose from. And I'm quite certain there's one that is going to be perfect for you. But nevertheless, if you get there, get to the site, and you have some questions, please let me know do not hesitate to reach out. I'm always happy to spend some time with you answer any questions that you may have and help you in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano Let's get after our key of A major melodic workout. With the start of the new year we set out we set out on a very ambitious, I think very exciting, and definitely a rewarding journey. That's going to have us traveling through all 12 keys of music by yours in now the game plan one key a month for 12 months and the agenda for each month to thoroughly explore a key both harmonically melodically and rhythmically. So in January, way back in January, we started with the key of course of C major, February, February, key of F major, March, B flat major April E flat major May a flat, June D flat, that pattern sound familiar it looks like right circle of fifths, and then July G flat August be last month September, E major. And now here we are in October, and we are focusing on the key of A major. So we have been traveling around the circle of fifths right counterclockwise Of course. And we have been doing a very methodical exploration, exploration, right with each and every key harmonically. We have been tackling for precise, very specific approaches to voicing the chords within the key. We've been looking at block shapes in their inversions, traditional three notes show voicings, we've looked at contemporary quarter voicings and we also look at five note two handed shapes. Now melodically we've studied each chords, scales, modes, and arpeggios using various entry and destination points with ascending and descending motion. So with each harmonic and melodic workout, we applied essential rhythmic patterns, starting with really just starting with fundamental whole half and quarter notes, and progressing each month to more complex patterns using various combinations of eighth notes, 16th notes triplets. In other words, every month we kind of ratchet it up rhythmically, right? So again, it's just a very structured, organized sequential, methodical and repetitive approach. These are all characteristics of an approach that makes up an excellent study and practice agenda that allows us to discover, learn and play jazz successfully. Now, with all that being said, I've mentioned this before. With all that being said, some of you may be thinking all 12 keys really, is that necessary. And I would respond yes, of course, it is moving through, and experiencing all 12 Keys is essential. In fact, it's not optional. I tell students all the time, if you want to become more comfortable with the key of C, then you better practice in the key of F. And if you want to get more comfy with the key of F you better spend time in the key of B flat. And if you really want to become comfortable with B flat, then you better jump into the key of E flat major and so on. So my my point is this. We get better in all keys when we strategic strategically and continually move through all keys precisely as we've been doing throughout this entire year. Now, as I've mentioned in previous podcast episodes, there is some misguided thinking out there with regard to playing in all 12 keys and the thought is simply this I don't need to practice in all 12 keys because in the jazz world, especially as a pianist, I don't see many tunes written in the keys of G flat, or B or E or A. So why do I need to spend time practicing those keys when in reality, I will be spending most of my time in keys like C and F and B flat and E flat. Right? Well, how can I say this? Politely? How can I say this gently?
It's wrong. It's just flat-out wrong thinking. Right and you casual. Your regular listeners know that any casual glance, right at practically, quite honestly, any jazz standard. You'll notice right away that the tunes weave in and out of various key centers. And this is a musical fact that you cannot escape. It's just a musical fact. You're spending waste more time. I promise you, you you will spend and waste more time looking for shortcuts and trying to avoid unfamiliar keys. Then if you just buckled down and study each of the 12 keys, in a methodical way, as we have been doing throughout this entire year, now I've I've stressed this point as well in previous episodes, do not make the mistake of thinking that one key must be mastered. Right and I'm I'm using air quotes here right mastered before moving on to the next key. And this is another very common misconception producing a prolonged and I mean prolonged practice approach that produces very little, produces minimal results at best, and definitely impedes your musical growth. So my goal with the strategic harmonic melodic and rhythmic workouts is to help you develop professional jazz piano skills anchored, anchored with an eternal rock solid sense of time. Last week with our key of a harmonic workout, I introduced rhythms, focusing primarily on the dotted eighth 16th Note combination. Now today, we're gonna follow that same game plan the application of rhythmic ideas melodically, focusing again on the dotted eighth 16th Note rhythm. But as always, I want to stress the importance of doing the entire the entire key of A major melodic workout not just simply jumping to the last lead sheet in your podcast packet skill 25 to attack the melodic rhythms. Why? Well, it's pretty simple because you have to have a functional command of your scales and arpeggios in the key of A major before you can begin applying rhythm to them.
It only makes sense. As I like to say you, you have to bake a cake before you can decorate the cake so remain disciplined spend time with scales one through 24 before tackling skill 25. So you will find in your lead sheets podcast packet as you have with all of the melodic melodic podcast packets since the beginning of the year, you will find 24 skills laid out for you. So let's just do a quick review skills one through four focus on us sending modes launching from the root position, first, second and third inversions. Skills one five through eight modes again but descending this time and again launching from the root the first second and third inversion scales nine through 12. We turn our attention to arpeggios ascending again watching from the root position and then first second, third inversion skills 13 through 16 arpeggios descending, again launching in from root position plus all three inversions first, second and third inversion now skill 17 251 progression ascending scale motion scale 18 251 progression descending scale motion scale 19 251 ascending arpeggio motion scale 20 251 descending arpeggio motion skill 21 we expand our harmonic motion to three e6 251 ascending using scale motion scale 22 Again 36251 progression, descending scale motion scale 23 36251, ascending arpeggios, and scale 24 36251 descending arpeggio motion. So you can see it's very thorough, very thorough, very methodical, going through our scales and arpeggios using ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. So after you have thoroughly completed your workout scales one through 24, then then you can turn your attention to play and scale 25 Which of course is going to challenge you with 12 melodic lines, using various rhythms that we have studied throughout the year and focusing primarily on the dotted eighth 16th combination. Wow. So we got a lot to do today. So the educational agenda for today is as follows. Number one, we're going to explore the key of A major melodically. Number two, we will play 12 melodic ideas using ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. Number three, all melodic ideas will be applied to the 251 progression in the key of A major B minor seven to E dominant seven to a major seven. Number four, all melodic lines will be played using a very relaxed groove of at No, I stand corrected, it's going to be a relaxed groove of 90 Just a little faster. And number five, all melodies will be played using a single note right hand melodic treatment with shells in my left hand. And number six, each melodic line will be repeated four times. Right, now I'm going to do the same format where I start off playing just a 251 progression, then I'll play the pattern four times. And then I end with just playing the 251 progression again. So before we go any further, if you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to hit the pause button right now to download and print your podcast packets, the illustrations, and the lead sheets. And once again, as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to all of the podcast packets. And once again, you should be using them and when listening to this episode, and of course, when practicing. So if you're listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio Pandora, and the list goes on and on. Then I want you to go directly to jazz piano skills podcast.com to access and download your podcast packets,
you will find the active downloads links within the show notes. Okay, one final but critical message. If you're thinking if you're listening to this podcast episode right now, and you're thinking that the key of A major melodic workout and the various skills that we are about to discover, learn and play. If you're thinking, Man, this information is way over my head. Then I would say to you just relax. Sit back, relax. Breathe in, breathe out. Continue to listen to this episode continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually by just simply listening to this podcast episode. Now, all skills just think about this for a second all skills are over our heads when first introduced, and that is precisely why the very first an essential step that we always need to take to improve our musicianship is to just simply listen. So do not shy away from conversations discussing foreign topics or using unfamiliar terms. Scary words right? Stepping outside of our musical comfort zone is what actually spawns our musical growth. Now, you've heard me say this a million times all musical growth begins upstairs mentally conceptually before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So just sit back listen to this podcast. Listen now to discover and learn the play will come in time. It always does. All righty, here we go. Grab your lead sheet scale 25, we're going to focus on these 12 melodic lines today. And I want to, of course, begin with letter A, always a good spot to begin. So, look at letter A. Okay, we're in the key of A, notice that we have the 251 progression here that B minor seven to the E seven to the A major seven. And, again, the focus, the primary focus of rhythm that's going to be spotlighted throughout all 12 of these melodic lines is our dotted eighth 16th note pattern that we looked at and explored last week with our a major harmonic workout. So letter A starts off rather simplistic, right, we have the same rhythmic motif in measure one and measure two and measure three, we have a dotted half note, followed by a dotted eighth 16th note and measure one the very same idea and measure to the very same idea and measure three. And then we end with our dotted quarter eighth combination and, and measure for the idea here is let's just get used to playing this dotted eighth 16th. note before we get too far into the weeds here with all the other melodic lines. So let's bring in the ensemble. And let's just sit back and listen to letter A, and digest that dotted quarter. I mean, I'm sorry, dotted eighth 16th note pattern. All right, so here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.
Nice just to spotlight that dotted eighth 16th Note combination, kind of get that feel internalized. Now, it's a great idea to actually practice these rhythms first, without any play along, right. Just practice the rhythms get the notes under your hands, the patterns under your hands, then you can put it in time. So you don't necessarily have to just jump in immediately and be playing with some kind of background track. That's ideally what we want to do place all of these lines in time, of course, but you certainly do not have to begin that way, especially as you're getting the lay of the land and, and getting familiar with the notes and the rhythms. Okay, so now with that being said, let's look at letter B. Trying to keep it pretty straightforward here as well. Right, so letter B, we start with our dotted quarter eighth combination, in a measure one, again, starting on the seventh of the B minor as we did with measure one and letter A. And then that dropping down to our another dotted quarter, eighth combination on the third of the E dominant once again, just as we did in letter A. And then on our a major, we have an ascending ascending scale motion, launching from the fifth of our a major seventh chord. And we're using dotted eighth 16th note patterns on count one, two and three followed by straight eighth note, eighth notes on count four. All right, so let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's check this out. This should be fun. Here we go.
Nice, very nice. So, again, you know, I'm, I'm playing everything today at 90. But as I have mentioned many times throughout the year, nothing wrong with starting at 80 or 70 or 60. Make sure that the tempo when you do start to place these rhythms in time, make sure that the tempo is manageable. Make sure that it is comfortable, right. In other words, do not set yourself up for failure. Big No, no, in fact, set yourself up for success. So letter c, now we start to from here on out letter C. Starting with letter C, we start to incorporate a lot of the rhythms that we have studied throughout the year. And you can see right away in measure one, we have an eighth note triplet, right, measure two, we have another dotted eighth 16th pattern on counts one and three. And then we have another eighth note triplet measure three. All right, so the lines are getting a little bit more involved. Also notice the shape of this line and letter C, nice descending motion through the two, and then us ascending ascending motion through our five and one quart. Alright, so let's bring the ensemble in. Let's have a little fun and listen to letter C. Here we go.
Absolutely love it. Nice melodic ideas, right. It's amazing this dotted, dotted eighth 16th Your notes a tricky little rhythm. It's, it's really kind of like a very laid back pair of eighth notes. Right, a long short relationship here. Very laid back. And if you can get comfortable with this field that's created by the dotted eighth 16th note you are on your will well on your way to playing jazz with a very nice articulation. So now let's take a look at letter D. Okay, so again, we have our dotted eighth 16th right away and measure one falling on count four, followed by just a simple pair of eighth notes and measure two. And then we have wow nice ascending line. Look at that, that a major there and in second inversion ascending through arpeggiated motion, and then ending that that measure measure three with another dotted eighth 16th note pattern followed by a pair of eighth notes and measure for nice line again just look at the shape of the line ascending and descending motion of the line. So let's bring the ensemble back in and let's check out letter D here we go.
Very nice, very nice. And again, I want to stress, you do not have to be playing at 90. I say it's a comfy temple. But that's not necessarily the case for everyone. So again, find the temple that is manageable for you. Another thing that's I would encourage you to do just because these are melodic lines, you know, we always talk about this with the harmonic workouts about clapping or tapping through the rhythms, you know, presented before you actually apply chord voicings to them. The same can be said here, nothing wrong with tapping or clapping through these rhythms before you begin to play them melodically. So now let's take a look at letter E, we're dealing with right away another eighth note triplet followed by a dotted eighth 16th pattern followed by a pair of straight eighths, then we have started on the end of for of measure one, and then on the end of one and the end of two and the and of three and measure 2/8 notes all falling on the backside of the beat, write that and have 3/8 Note is tied to count four, then guess what we have another eighth note triplet, followed by three, dotted eighth 16th note patterns on count to count three and count four. Wow, this is going to be fun. So let's bring that ensemble back in right now and check out this melodic line. And again, pay attention to the line the direction of the line, the ascending descending, really it's kind of starting, descending, ascending, and then another ascending descending segment there and measure three and four. So pay attention always to the direction of the lines. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think.
Love it right. And I want to encourage you to do this to nothing wrong with taking a rhythmic idea that I'm playing here on the two core on a two chord, let's say, let's say you love that idea on the two chord and letter E. Well, there's nothing wrong with taking that same idea. And instead of playing it on D minor start moving around to other minor chords that we've explored throughout the year, the D minor, the G minor, the C minor right, and so on. Nothing wrong with isolating some of these ideas that that you are drawn to say I really, you know, I like that idea. I'm actually going to practice that over all my minor chords are overall my dominant chords or my major chords. All right, keep that in mind as well. So now let's take a look at letter F. Here comes that quarter note triplet that we've dealt with the last couple of months right? So I have a quarter note triplet on on counts one and two of measure one we have another quarter note triplet on count one and two of measure two followed by a nice ascending line scale motion on the A major using our dotted eighth 16th notes. Wow. Fantastic. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's have a little fun and play letter F here. we go.
While we have played through six of our melodic lines, we are halfway home. So let's continue on. So letter G. Jumping right in, look at this dotted eighth 16th notes on counts 123 and four ascending scale motion on our two chord followed by 4/8 notes on counts one and two, stretching over counts one and two and measure two and look at those eighth notes. They're the same note, repetition, nothing wrong with it. And then we have a nice descending line on our a major seven in measure three, wrapping it up on count four with another dotted eighth 16th note pattern. Okay, wow. So let's bring on some blood let's check out lethargy here we go.
Now just taking a little glance at h through L, you can just visually see that things are getting a little bit more intense. The rhythms are getting a little bit more involved. As I like to say the letter H. We have eighth note triplets on counts one, two and three of measure one ascending, then we have a descending line over our five chord utilizing our dotted eighth 16th notes. And then we come back to that ascending motion again over a major our one chord utilizing an eighth note triplet to play arpeggiated motion. Wow, this is going to be a great line. So let's let's not wait any longer. Let's bring the ensemble back in, and let's check out letter H here we go.
That's a fun line right there. All right, look at letter i. Now, you know, it's interesting up until this point, all of our dotted eighths 16th note patterns have really been placed within scale motion. Right away you look at letter I and you can see we do have our dotted eighth 16th note patterns but that's not scale motion anymore. So we have some large intervocalic leaps to deal with in measure one, on count one, measure one count three measure to count one measure to count three. All right, then we ended up with our a major nice ascending scale motion on our A major chord resolving to the ninth which I always love to do again pay attention to have not mentioned it yet today but always pay attention to entry points of lines and resolution points, the destination points are you resolving on the nine is this individual resolving on the sixth or the third? It tells you a lot and you want to start shaping your lines to mimic what you hear jazz musicians do. So now let's deal with our dotted eighth 16th pattern that's jumping around intervallic ly we're no longer using it only in a scale situation so let's bring the ensemble in and let's check out letter I Here we go.
Right We don't have much time to catch her breath here right because check out letter J well what the heck 16th notes ascending 16th notes on counts one and two of measure one we have ascending 16th notes on counts one and two of measure two right oh my goodness and ascending line really from the two chord all the way through the five chord with all the 16th notes. Then we have a nice descending line finally on our a major seventh but look how we're descending where the ascending using the dotted eighth 16th pattern and then we finally wrap up the musical phrase with a pair of of simple eighth notes on count one of measure four Wow All right here we go let's let's see what this sounds like with now all of a sudden this attack of 16th notes that we have to deal with so here we go. Let's check it out.
I love it. Absolutely love it another challenge there. with those 16th notes, right playing them cleanly, playing them in time without doing what? Rushing. It's amazing how we visually see 16th notes. And we immediately think fast, and we think faster, and we think faster. So be careful with the 16th notes, be consciously aware of trying to relax and play in time. Okay? All right, so let's take a look at letter K. Here we go with another very familiar rhythm that we have dealt with throughout the year, our eighth quarter eighth combination, and we have to deal with that combination back to back and measure one on counts one and two, and then again, on counts three and four. We have four nice, traditional eighth notes on our five chord in measure two, and then we have some dotted eighth sixteenths to deal with and measure three as we start an ascending line through our one chord. All right, well, let's see what this sounds like. So let's bring the ensemble in and let's check it out here we go.
Very nice, very nice. So here we are right literal the last melodic line of the day. Before we wrap it up, I want to say that every melodic line that we have listened to today, every single one all 12 As we have done throughout the entire year, uses 100% diatonic notes, notes that are found within the key of A we are not going outside of the key at all. To develop our melodic ideas and to improvise. You know, you've always heard me say this about playing tunes that you should absolutely know the melody inside. Now before you even think about improvising. I can take it a step further and say you should absolutely be able to improvise using 100% diatonic motion before you even think about using notes that fall outside the key. In other words, you have to know how to play the right notes right first, before you're going to have any success incorporating the wrong notes. Right. So okay, diatonic motion letter L stays true to that this line 100% diatonic to the key of A major, but look at measure one, holy moly, descending 16th notes. counts one count to count three, count four. Wow. Then followed by ascending dotted eighth 16th notes scale motion, scale motion descending scale motion ascending, and then finally, nice ascending arpeggio motion on our a major in measure three. Again, the challenge here is to not rush Do not be freaked out by a line of 16th notes. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble and let's have a little fun and play letter L here we go.
Awesome. That's great. Wow, all 12 are fantastic lines. And you know what, as always, we have unpacked a ton of information. In this podcast episode. As we explored our key of A major melodic workout now, I cannot stress enough, I just cannot stress enough how important it is that you spend time becoming familiar with the diatonic melodic shapes, scales, and arpeggios of a key. Right having a command of ascending descending scale motion within the framework of a key the modes is a huge step towards developing mature improvisation skills and, and having a command of ascending and descending arpeggio motion. Outlining the harmonic shapes of a key is equally important. Then apply in the ascending descending scale and arpeggio shapes are the key to standard chord progressions within the key such as the 251 progression. Let me tell you, that's a big time jazz piano skill that must be strategically studied and practiced. If you are serious about becoming an accomplished jazz pianist. Now, combined last week's key have a major harmonic workout with this week's key of A major melodic workout. Wow, you have an incredible combination that will have you well on your way to mastering the key of A major. And not only that, it will continue solidifying a practice blueprint for you that that can be replicated in all the other keys, which is precisely what we have been doing throughout this entire year. Now, I said, set it every week, I think every week since the beginning of the year. If you hang in there with me this year, by the way, we only have a couple of months left here, right. If you hang in there, you are going to experience a ton of jazz pianos growth and you will love where you are by the beginning of next year. Now as always, again, as always Be patient developing mature professional jazz piano skills takes time. Begin structuring your practicing after the plain demonstrations that I modeled modeled for you in this podcast and in previous podcast episodes. And you will begin to see you will begin to feel you will begin to hear literally hear your progress. Well I hope that you have found this jazz panel skills podcast less than exploring a key of A major melodic workout to be insightful and and of course to be very beneficial. Don't forget if you're a jazz panel skills ensemble member I will see you online Thursday evening this Thursday at the jazz panel skills master class that's going to be 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring our key of A major melodic workout in greater detail. And of course to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. I want to remind you again, use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets to play alongs for this lesson, and also tap into the online jazz piano skills, curriculum, all of those courses to maximize your musical growth. And one last little invite make sure that you become an active participant in the jazz piano skills community. Get out there, get involved, contribute to the various forums, make some new jazz piano friends, it's always a great thing to do. Now you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 My extension here at the school at the Dallas School of Music is 211 You can send me an email Dr. Lawrence, that's firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can send me a little SpeakPipe voice message which is a neat little widget that is found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy your key at a major melodic, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn, and play jazz piano
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