Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) and his Grammy award acceptance speech. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, what a night we had last Sunday at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. The glitz! The Glamour! SEACREST! Where do I begin?? Chillin' with Lil' Wayne...meeting Cyndi Lauper's adorable mother...the complimentary blinking Coldplay bracelet.....much too much to recap. It's really is still a bit of a blur. But, if there's one thing that I remember VERY clearly, it was accepting the Grammy for Best Rock Performance...and then saying this:

"To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what's important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that's the most important thing for people to do... It's not about being perfect, it's not about sounding absolutely correct, it's not about what goes on in a computer. It's about what goes on in here [your heart] and what goes on in here [your head]."


Not the Gettysburg Address, but hey......I'm a drummer, remember?

Well, me and my big mouth. Never has a 33 second acceptance rant evoked such caps-lock postboard rage as my lil' ode to analog recording has. OK....maybe Kanye has me on this one, but....Imma let you finish....just wanted to clarify something...

I love music. I love ALL kinds of music. From Kyuss to Kraftwerk, Pinetop Perkins to Prodigy, Dead Kennedys to Deadmau5.....I love music. Electronic or acoustic, it doesn't matter to me. The simple act of creating music is a beautiful gift that ALL human beings are blessed with. And the diversity of one musician's personality to the next is what makes music so exciting and.....human.

That's exactly what I was referring to. The "human element". That thing that happens when a song speeds up slightly, or a vocal goes a little sharp. That thing that makes people sound like PEOPLE. Somewhere along the line those things became "bad" things, and with the great advances in digital recording technology over the years they became easily "fixed". The end result? I my humble opinion.....a lot of music that sounds perfect, but lacks personality. The one thing that makes music so exciting in the first place.

And, unfortunately, some of these great advances have taken the focus off of the actual craft of performance. Look, I am not Yngwie Malmsteen. I am not John Bonham. Hell...I'm not even Josh Groban, for that matter. But I try really ****ing hard so that I don't have to rely on anything but my hands and my heart to play a song. I do the best that I possibly can within my limitations, and accept that it sounds like me. Because that's what I think is most important. It should be real, right? Everybody wants something real.

I don't know how to do what Skrillex does (though I ****ing love it) but I do know that the reason he is so loved is because he sounds like Skrillex, and that's badass. We have a different process and a different set of tools, but the "craft" is equally as important, I'm sure. I mean.....if it were that easy, anyone could do it, right? (See what I did there?)

So, don't give me two Crown Royals and then ask me to make a speech at your wedding, because I might just bust into the advantages of recording to 2 inch tape.

Now, I think I have to go scream at some kids to get off my lawn.


I think his comments are more relevant than he might be aware of. I think they resonate in the world of film as well. While they can certainly be incredible and exciting, it isn't so much about the advancements and the tools and the mechanics... it is about the "realness" of a personal voice. What do you guys think?
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post #2 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 01:51 PM
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He is dead on right, very much so. Most folks today may not realize how utterly fake pop music has become. It's ridiculous these days. There almost no human element left. Everything is played to a click track pretty much always. Everything is quantized, tuned, automated, replaced, and edited out the ying yang.

More time is often spent editing the performance than recording the performance. If you listen to folks who do mixing for a living these days, it's not even considered unusual that they would spend a day hand editing a song. Probably few folks not in the music production world (either pro or amateur) realize how completely you can modify a performance in the digital world these days.

It's a complex problem because it has a lot of drivers. One obvious one is that it makes the artist the least important person in the chain, and that's something that probalby suits the desires of everyone else in the chain. It makes the mixer just as important as the artist, since he's just taking raw materials and really creating the song. It fans the vanity of the artists, who get to put out stuff vastly better than they can actually perform. It creates a competition among mixers to see who can create the most apparently perfect silk purse out of the most pathetic sows ear, so they all want to show off their skills.

And now it's been going on so long that kids have come to accept it as how music should sound. They don't even understand how much soul and vibe and dynamics has been lost, because they never hear any hardly. There are exceptions of course, like Grohl or someone like Cee-lo Green, but for the most part it's all completely fake, completely plastic stuff created in a computer (meaning the popular, mainstream stuff, there's always other stuff out in the sticks where the vast majority of people will ever go find it.)

Presumably, now more than tens years out, we'd be expecting to have some sort of rebellion against it, since that's the normal cycle. But the internet and piracy have so thrown a monkey into the works that I'm not sure that the normal cycle is operable anymore. No local scene can grow in isolation anymore until it's reached a point where it's ready to be thrown out upon the world as alternative to the current thing, and that's been a core component of most of the previous ones I think (CBGBs, Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta, LA, etc...) And now that kids have almost given up their right to control what the music industry does (because they aren't voting with their money anymore), I'm not sure that they can force a change either. And of course the massive micro-categorization that so many poeple on the internet get into makes it probably harder as well. It's hard for me to see where the next White Stripes are going to come from, though I hope they do.

But, anyhoo, I say pee on plastic. Get some real human emotion and real actual human error into music again. Stop buying data processing that is being sold as music. I make music and I refuse to use any of those tools, but of course it means that mey stuff sounds 'amateur' compared to other people who are no more talented than me, and often probably less so, because they don't hesitate to fake up their stuff using the massively powerful digital tools now available.

And some people of course will say, what does it matter. If the listener likes it, then that's all that counts. Well, I say that's not true, any more than it doesn't matter what's in the food you eat as long as you think it tastes good. How it's made does count. If the point of music is honest expression, and all of the best music IMO comes from that foundation, how honest can it be if the whole performance is fake. And also people will say, but they used to cut the tape and play tricks back in the day. Yeh, they did but to achieve what is now trivially easy would take a huge effort, and it was just a lot easier to get a good performance instead. And much more of the manipulation back then was to take a really good performance and make it sonically interesting, not to take a poor performance and make it sound inhumanly perfect.

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post #3 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 01:52 PM
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I'm not sure why, but his comments reminded me of this from Almost Famous
Quote:


Russell Hammond: You, Aaron, are what it's all about. You're real. Your room is real. Your friends are real. Real, man, real. You know? Real. You're more important than all the silly machinery. Silly machinery. And you know it! In eleven years its going to be 1984, man. Think about that!
Aaron: Wanna see me feed a mouse to my snake?
Russell Hammond: Yes.

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post #4 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 01:58 PM
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I am a Golden God... I'm on DRUGS!

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post #5 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

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I think his comments are more relevant than he might be aware of. I think they resonate in the world of film as well. While they can certainly be incredible and exciting, it isn't so much about the advancements and the tools and the mechanics... it is about the "realness" of a personal voice. What do you guys think?

I think Mr. Grohl made the RIGHT comments at the RIGHT time..... powerful and insightful stuff.
Kudos to him.

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post #6 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 02:46 PM
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post #7 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 03:27 PM
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I don't think he needs to defend what he said.

Neither do I.
Don't know why anyone with half a brain would....

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post #8 of 25 Old 02-17-2012, 03:32 PM
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my teenage son is totally with grohl on this. he's the one who told
me that the band recorded the album in a garage and when he heard grohl's acceptance speech he said the contemporary colloquialism for "right on"

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post #9 of 25 Old 02-18-2012, 12:28 PM
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It wouldn't surprise me if most of the phi betta kappas in the audience had no clue about what he was saying.
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post #10 of 25 Old 02-18-2012, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post

Everything is played to a click track pretty much always.

Hey Dean, what is a "click track"?

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post #11 of 25 Old 02-18-2012, 05:55 PM
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These days it's a computer generated version of a metronome. The reason that it's so often done these days is because they want to be able to cut the parts up and swizzle them around in the computer. If there's any natural human variation in tempo, that won't work. If every take of the song is at exactly the same tempo, then they can grab bits from any take of the song and mix them together at will. Or, say, just take one chorus and paste it in over every other chorus, that sort of thing.

Playing to a click track per se isn't the worst thing in the world. But it's mostly done for reasons that are related to the plasticization of music. And much music would be benefit from being able to speed up and slow down naturally. But it's probably also the case these days that a lot of acts couldn't play half in time without one, because it's so ubiquitous.

And that's one of the side effects of the massive growth of digital cheater tools these days, that musicianship is becoming less and less of an emphasis. A lot of people these days will actually get pretty upset if you hold the position (as I do) that someone who can really do it deserves more respect than someone who can't and just uses the computer to make it seem like they can. And people who run studios, for the most part except for particularly good bands, just assume that they are going to do lots of editing on any song they record, so they are always going to use a click track to make their editing work practical and cost effective.

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post #12 of 25 Old 02-19-2012, 07:33 AM
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Thanks Dean, so do the musician's hear this? If I understand it right, then it's to keep the musician in tempo so that tracks can later be edited and everything will still "line up right".

I guess that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It opens the door to doing other things though.

I recently started playing in "garage band". We're all still learning. (old guys too so it seems to take longer) Our bass player can often be heard to say "you guys need to stop speeding up in the chorus!". Something like a click track would help us, but we seem to get it right without it, even though I'm sure it's not good enough for post-recording digital editing. We mic voices and instruments, use an analog mixer, and record digitally in stereo. No chance of further editing - what we played is what you get. That only makes us all REALLY appreciate musicians with talent who can get it right most of the time.

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post #13 of 25 Old 02-19-2012, 07:54 AM
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^^ Yes the musician is hearing it in his headphones during recording. Which unfortunately (and I've noticed it a lot) often "leaks" on the actual track. If you pay close attention, listen to a few songs and you'll hear it as well (not *everytime* but often)

When I'm recording someone with a click track I always try to make sure that I don't get that darn click sound in my mic, so I test first and make sure 1/he or she hears it properly and 2/I don't. I always have it on another track anyway for reference.

I'm guessing a lot of them must be 'hearing impaired' and need to hear the click at a level way too loud in their headphones. Of course there's also the issue of the live sound when they play, so it's hard to balance sometimes. Sounds silly but it's a tricky issue.
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post #14 of 25 Old 02-19-2012, 10:39 AM
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Actually, speeding up in a chorus is often a good thing. It can give the chorus a greater urgency and lift. Good drummers will also often play a little 'behind the beat' in the verses, and then 'come up onto the beat' in the choruses and pick the tempo up slightly. These types of things can make a big difference in increasing the drama level of the choruses and shouldn't be looked at at all as a problem, unless there's some musical reason why there should be no tempo increase and sometimes there may be.

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post #15 of 25 Old 02-19-2012, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morpheo View Post

^^ Yes the musician is hearing it in his headphones during recording. Which unfortunately (and I've noticed it a lot) often "leaks" on the actual track. If you pay close attention, listen to a few songs and you'll hear it as well (not *everytime* but often)

This is made worse today I think because of the tendancy these days to record stupid numbers of vocal tracks on every song. If you have 20 vocal tracks and every one of them was recorded in a quiet room as an overdub, with a click in the headphones, it can add up. And probably a lot of people still have the click going even if they are singing to an already laid down instrumental track as well I bet, which seems silly to me.

And, conversely, one thing that most music today is missing is bleed (for the non-recorder folks here.) Bleed is where the mics for one instrument pick up the other instruments faintly, sometimes more than faintly. It was a key element of most popular recorded music as was generally made before the modern era. Basically the band would play as a group to lay down the basic instrumental tracks, then they would go back and overdub other tracks over those. But those basic instrumental tracks would often be recorded together in a single room. Effort was generally made to minimize bleed but it still occurred.

This has a very nice effect often, of giving a size and depth to the music because each of those microphones will be panned differently, and EQ'd differently and such. So it tended to spread out and thicken the sound of the instruments and 'glue' the track together in a nice way. But over time the obsession with being able to manipulate the material after the fact has led to more and more recording where the people aren't playing together in a room and there's not interaction between the instruments at all because they are either completely isolated or recorded completely separately.

It makes for a cleaner sound and more of what is called 'separation' between the instruments. But I'm not sure ultimately that it's been really better for music as a whole. And of course in today's world of everyone sitting home alone recording by themselves really every track is recorded separately, which has its cost in terms of the 'mojo' of the music because there aren't multiple people in a room playing together even on the most basic tracks of the song. And this is another reason for the use of click tracks, because a single person can't sit down generally and play by himself and then come back and play to that previously recorded content unless it's recorded to a click track, unless he is a very good player with excellent time sense.

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post #16 of 25 Old 02-19-2012, 12:29 PM
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One thing I find particularly ironic, BTW, is that for so long people complained about the evil record companies and how they only care about money and the music was secondary and all that. But now that the record companies are being pushed away more and more and people are 'taking control of their own music', almost all music is now going completely plastic because it was the record companies that found talented people and put them together with top technical talent in good studios with great sounding rooms.

Now it's people recording in a horrible sounding bedroom, using actual microphones as little as they can because of that (or because they don't even want to be bothered to learn to play a real instrument), and close micing almost everything when they have to use a mic, using lots of samples they didn't create, using tons of digital plugins to bash it into what it should have sounded like on the way in to begin with, using software based synths for drums and strings and horns and all that because they can't afford the real thing, and on and on.

There's vastly less actual recording of real people playing than was the case back in the so called evil record company days. The bulk of the albums out there being recorded are probably self-financed, so they can't afford to do much more than find some guy with a converted bedroom or basement, all too often probably using a cracked version of ProTools and a bunch of cracked plugs, who probably doesn't have that much experience in actually recording but will sit there for days editing for a minimal fee.

It's funny how these things work out.

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post #17 of 25 Old 02-19-2012, 12:32 PM
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The young love the end result though lol

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #18 of 25 Old 02-19-2012, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morpheo View Post

^^ Yes the musician is hearing it in his headphones during recording.

Thanks Morpheo. Kind of what I was guessing. I practice with either a metronome or beat-box so that seems reasonable. Only I always saw it as a training device to help me keep rhythm when we're "playing for real".

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Actually, speeding up in a chorus is often a good thing. It can give the chorus a greater urgency and lift. Good drummers will also often play a little 'behind the beat' in the verses, and then 'come up onto the beat' in the choruses and pick the tempo up slightly. These types of things can make a big difference in increasing the drama level of the choruses and shouldn't be looked at at all as a problem, unless there's some musical reason why there should be no tempo increase and sometimes there may be.

That's interesting and I've never heard of that. It makes perfect sense though. The song that is our main offender is "Brown Eyed Girl". Me and the mondolin player (yeah, all acoustic bluegrass setup. No drummer. Percussion is the stand-up bass) tend to speed up in the chorus when the "sha-la-las" start. Our problem is that we don't return to the original tempo

I will suggest that we try to up-tempo the chorus just a bit though.

Back on topic somewhat. Check out this "True Temperament" Guitar. The frets are not parallel to help with intonation. I've never seen that before.

http://www.truetemperament.com/site/index.php

A guitar-player friend of mine listened to the Matt Blackett video on that site and said "man, that thing sounds like a synthesizer!"

I'd give this technology "a pass" as it's purely an intrument modification and it's still up to the musician to make the music; no digital autotuning going on but it sounds more "correct".

Cary
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On Hulu there's a good doc on the Foos BTW. The last 30 minutes are damn awesome when it dives into the creative process of their latest record.
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It's called Back and Forth. It's quite good. It's available on Netflix as well.

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post #21 of 25 Old 02-20-2012, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post

This is made worse today I think because of the tendancy these days to record stupid numbers of vocal tracks on every song. If you have 20 vocal tracks and every one of them was recorded in a quiet room as an overdub, with a click in the headphones, it can add up. And probably a lot of people still have the click going even if they are singing to an already laid down instrumental track as well I bet, which seems silly to me.

And, conversely, one thing that most music today is missing is bleed (for the non-recorder folks here.) Bleed is where the mics for one instrument pick up the other instruments faintly, sometimes more than faintly. It was a key element of most popular recorded music as was generally made before the modern era. Basically the band would play as a group to lay down the basic instrumental tracks, then they would go back and overdub other tracks over those. But those basic instrumental tracks would often be recorded together in a single room. Effort was generally made to minimize bleed but it still occurred.

This has a very nice effect often, of giving a size and depth to the music because each of those microphones will be panned differently, and EQ'd differently and such. So it tended to spread out and thicken the sound of the instruments and 'glue' the track together in a nice way. But over time the obsession with being able to manipulate the material after the fact has led to more and more recording where the people aren't playing together in a room and there's not interaction between the instruments at all because they are either completely isolated or recorded completely separately.

It makes for a cleaner sound and more of what is called 'separation' between the instruments. But I'm not sure ultimately that it's been really better for music as a whole. And of course in today's world of everyone sitting home alone recording by themselves really every track is recorded separately, which has its cost in terms of the 'mojo' of the music because there aren't multiple people in a room playing together even on the most basic tracks of the song. And this is another reason for the use of click tracks, because a single person can't sit down generally and play by himself and then come back and play to that previously recorded content unless it's recorded to a click track, unless he is a very good player with excellent time sense.



and to think the beatles recorded sgt. peppers with only 4 tracks.....

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post #22 of 25 Old 02-20-2012, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
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and to think the beatles recorded sgt. peppers with only 4 tracks.....

Yes... yet that doesn't mean technology is bad. I love it. But what I love the most is using the tools I have for what they've been designed for. I'm using virtual synths and samplers everyday but when I need a guitarist and a drummer, I'm not relying on Kontakt or Reason, I call the guys directly for a studio session
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His statements aren't knocking electronic music (as in genres like techno, house, drum&bass, etc), they are speaking to the digitally corrected\\perfected production of any music. A great doc that I posted recently, PressPausePlay, has similar sentiments echoed by a professional sound recordist:

"Younger musicians and some older ones I've seen are guilty of this too, rely to heavily too much on the technology. They give a sub-par substandard performance and they expect the technology to compensate for it. 'oh you can fix that I know, you have a tool that does that. You can tune that, you can edit this to death. You can adjust this, you can edit this to death. You can adjust this, you can adjust that.'

They know, unfortunately, the tools that are available to us. And yes we can. It's time consuming. But we can. We can fix just about anything. After you finish fixing it, there's not performance anymore. There's nothing there."
- Nick Sanano

"...now if a drummer can't articulate a part with precision or musicality, I'm expected to edit it until it has those qualities, you know. I mean, if you listen to a motown record, for example, those records are all played by amazing musicians, and now, much of what you hear, i shouldn't say for all records, but for pop records, the records I make, the records I'm hired to make, those records are generally mechanically edited, to.... some people might consider a sterile precision. You know, a computerized precision. " - Additional music producer in the doc

"I personally find perfection in art and music off-putting. I like listening to billy holiday because there is vulnerability. I love listening to nick drake because of that vulnerability and imperfection. I get really almost intimidated and bored by perfect digital art. I think some engineers and some producers and some people who work on the production side of making digital art or music just focus on creating perfection without vulnerability and beauty and humanity. " - Moby (an electronic artist)
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post #24 of 25 Old 02-21-2012, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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On the note of FF recording in their garage, you guys might be interested to know they actually did a "garage tour" where they played inside the garage's of a few contest winners the night before their big gigs. Here is one such performance:

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post #25 of 25 Old 02-21-2012, 09:43 AM
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What I took from Dave's speech is that alot of today's music has no emotional connection involved. I am Not a huge fan of the type of music that is on Adel's 21 albumn but it is well recorded and I enjoy it. I think Wasting Light is a very good record. It's a shame that people took his comments out of context.

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