Piano Notes

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Dancing in the Rain | Water under the Bridge | Angelique | Bon Voyage | The Water Wheel | The Things I Loved | Remission | Stay till the End of the World | I’ll Remember You | The Fairy Cupboards | Gibson’s Cave | Yo todavía sueño de España | From the Cradle | For Julie | The Girl with a Teardrop in her Eye | Beyond the Rain | I Love the Rain | Rhapsody for Utøya | River of Peace | Guess who loves you… | Angel’s Music Box | Ring the Curtain | Valldemossa | Sophie | This is Monday | Adagio | Bavarian Journey | To Fall in Love | Summer | Sixties Girl | Paul’s Lament | This is Monday | One Day Soon | This is My Day | Chanson Pour Jeanne | Etude en Violet | Etude en Bleu | Étude en Indigo | Étude en Jaune | Étude en Vert | Monsieur Clayderman | Chanson d’automne | Première Impression | Sequence dance

Felix Mendelssohn – “Even if, in one or other of them, I had a particular word or words in mind, I would not tell anyone, because the same word means different things to different people. Only the songs say the same thing, arouse the same feeling, in everyone – a feeling that can’t be expressed in words.”
AlanPriceWhen I was 16 (picture was at the Flamingo Club, Wardour St with Alan Price) I played piano every night in a cabaret/casino night-club (I actually left school before my fifteenth birthday) and lived in a room above the club. We were a piano jazz trio (Eddie Cavanagh (drums) Ian Hatch (bass) and were employed to play cool music for listening and dancing and also to accompany the nightly cabaret show. There was also a resident host and singer (Peter Adrian). Peter sang big songs from musicals (“Tonight”, ”If I Loved You”) and standards (‘Lady is a Tramp’ ‘Moon River’ etc.) even the occasional light-opera. One night in the green room (green rooms didn’t actually exist back then) Peter purred his delight of my piano cadenza during the codetta of Moon River before his big ending note – “Ooohh, Melvyn, I just love your watery bits….” Peter had a gift for coining camp-style phrases. Anyway, many, many years later after writing ”Water under the Bridge” , the memory of this early time of my life returned and even though I spent years playing all kinds of jazz and rock music, when I listened to music for pure relaxation, it would be either classical (Mozart, Haydn) or romantic (Chopin, Liszt etc.) and impressionistic works of composers such as Debussy (getting more watery by the minute) Then there is my literal love for water: waterfalls; rivers; becks; lakes; rain; snow; rainbows, even cloud formations and water related phenomena. Anyway, it figures that I started trying to write this kind of music although I never realised how incredibly unpopular it is with virtually everyone. I have even failed miserably to entice any of my piano pupils (several are beyond grade eight) to perform any of my music even though it would be a world premiere) I have now promised myself at least never to write any more piano music (in fact I haven’t written anything for over a year). So here is the last couple of tunes I wrote before I retired. (please understand this is just for me and my archives, you are warned not to actually listen)

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Dancing in the rain

Here’s a really twinkly bunch of notes…

I can’t remember whether our copy of Jack Vetriano’s picture inspired the music or maybe I like the association anyway. Not too romantic for the butler and maid though.

I vaguely recall dreaming about being fishing on a boat in the pouring rain while a ghostly figure of a lady danced alone on the shore.

Ah yes, that sounds more like it – Water, water (watery music) everywhere…

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Water under the Bridge

JaneLamb-197x300My wife and I used to take our dog Doris to Aira Force waterfalls in the Lake District. This music is a reminder of those happy times.

I tend to write tunes (rather than compositions) and then decorate and extemporise the melody like a fantasie. I almost always have lyrics in mind and on this occasion I was feeling a little sorry for myself for some reason and the opening line went something like, “all my dreams are drifting away” (the one on the fishing boat probably) Anyway there yuh go…

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Angelique

SeascapeAnother of my very French sounding melodies. I read an tragic story of a pretty young girl called Angelique who was brutally murdered for no apparent reason. I sometimes try not to detach myself from other people’s misfortune and imagine we are all family.

Pity I can’t swap tunes for peoples lives.

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Bon Voyage

This begins with a simple folk melody (I’ve no idea if I wrote it or heard something similar somewhere before) It then winds its way through different moods, key changes and developments before arriving back at the simple opening melody.

I have always been fascinated by travel, forms of transportation, the idea of a quest etc. I send myself to sleep at night imagining myself on ‘Hobbit’ style journeys through woods, mountains, ocean voyages and all kinds of wild adventures. (Maybe I should get out more). Anyway I often wake up in the morning with my tunes in my head and rush to the piano to try and make sense of it all.

Very irritating for my wife though…

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The Water Wheel

The_Water_Wheel-mp3-imageOriginally called ‘Life Keeps Turning’ the inspiration came from an old Water Mill not too far away – A nice (secret) place to spend time. The music churns away joyously with sloshy abandon and doubles as a great study for right-hand arpeggios. Arpeggios naturally rise and fall on the piano and the right-hand examples in this piece work quite well (for me) in depicting the water as it surges over the wheel.

There’s a bit more to this story and I maybe will try to get round to publishing more details another time.

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The Things I Loved

The_Things_I_Loved-mp3-imageThis sweet and dreamy little tune celebrates the joys and simple pleasures of life. It is very French and a trifle melancholic.

The piece has spoonfuls of nostalgia running throughout and all the usual dynamic and tempo variations that quirky sentimental (and theatrical) music needs.

Many of my piano solos are really songs that I develop into romantic piano works using modulations and improvisational devices. I do not, however always publish the words – either because I don’t rate them very highly or I prefer the listener to visualise their own storyline or imagery – which is often the whole point of instrumental music.

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Remission

Remission_melstallwood-mp3-imageThis sweet and dreamy little tune celebrates the joys and simple pleasures of life. It is very French and a trifle melancholic.

I have sadly lost many friends and family over the years and several well before their time. Rheumatoid Arthritis has severely restricted my piano playing ability in the last year or so but occasionally I get a day or two’s remission. This (unusual for me) joyful and optimistic piece was composed during one of those days. It also reminds me of old friends whose chances of remission are now gone…

We all need to try and make our short time on Earth as meaningful as we can. If we knew we were to die tomorrow how would we behave? How would we want to be remembered? These things would reveal our heart. Maybe we would not need to behave any differently, but in my experience most people only really grow up when they become aware of their mortality ( even young children).

After the final two (arpeggiated) chords there is a sense to the listener that the piece is unfinished. I wrote a question mark on the sheet music (where the final chord should be) in some form of explanation…

I really should write something called Resurrection…

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Stay Till the End of the World

Stay_till_the_End-mp3-imageA piano arrangement of a song I wrote to the lyrics of David Tremaine (called Stay with me till the end).

I added a Moog Synthesiser sound to create a slightly more Sci-Fi feeling and mood and there is also a ‘voice pad’ to thicken the backdrop a little. I may re-arrange this piece when I get a little more time, maybe think about new orchestrations etc.

This version was probably a bit rushed!

N.B. I believe our planet was designed to last forever and imperfect humans only have a limited period in which to rape and plunder it’s wealth and resources. One day we may all have to account for the things we have done.

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I’ll Remember You

I_Remember_U-mp3-imageHow could I forget…

If you listen carefully to this songlike piece you will find yourself writing the words, at least I like to think you will. Then it suddenly breaks into a short classical refrain of joyous memories…

I’m such a soppy git!

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(Lost in) the Fairy Cupboards

fairy_cupboardsHere is a magical little place I have spent some happy moments in quiet contemplation. My previous post relates the amazing tale of the Lord of Romaldkirk and Elspeth and this little spot is close to that fateful crag overlooking the meeting of the rivers Balder and Tees. I wrote the music with this lovely little spot in mind and added my usual large dollup of fantasy. The footpath leads on the the old Shaw Bowes Academy where Charles Dickens was inspired to write Nicholas Nickleby and his tales of Wackford Squeers and Dotheboys Hall. My story however is not to be told today, but it doth reside in the music…

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Gibson’s Cave

Gibsons_Cave-mp3-image Gibson’s Cave is in Teesdale and is part a suite of music I wrote for Teesdale several years back so although not included on the original Valley of the Ice Flowers album, it really should have been. This lovely place can be accessed from the Bowlees visitor centre in Teesdale. After a walk through the beech and silver birch woods by Bowlees Beck, the impressive cave and waterfall (Summerhill Force) suddenly comes into view. The cave was supposed to be a hide-out for an outlaw in the 16th Century.

I wrote the waltz at the end as a kind of afterthought. Maybe I remember dancing and larking about behind the waterfall on one occasion in the cave area.

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Yo todavía sueño de España

Spain“I Still Dream of Spain” Composed 17th October 2002 and published in ’10 Character Studies for Piano’

I spent six months playing piano in Majorca in 1971 and this study has a flavour of those hazy distant days. The ‘B’ section is’ jazzy’ rather than’ latin’ and the LH reminds me of a double bass part I once heard. The improvisational development follows a dream I once had. The D major melody at the end (originally B minor at the beginning) simply represents the sun coming out, or maybe me waking up, or ‘cos it sounded nice…

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From the Cradle

cradle-rockCradle Song’s (Berceuse) are usually written in triple time but my tune lulls along in common time. I wrote it when I was about 18 months. (from retirement). The simple song form (ABA) is followed by my usual middle section development returning to ABA a semitone higher.

Not much else to add… (hope you like it)

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For Julie

This is a piece I wrote as a commission. It tells of a lovely lady called Julie and features a donkey called ”Gorbachev” and a horse called ”Sox”. It is written in my now traditional ”Pistachio” style. The ”watery” rating is around 9/10 (I used a melody I wrote about 30 years ago called ‘Dreaming’ from Alice in Peterborough’)

dedicated to Julie (and John) Richardson

* Julie once said “I love all the lovely Pistachio thingies in your music” (probably meant ‘Arpeggios’)

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The Girl with a Teardrop in her Eye

teardropThis was intended to be a song (Broadway Ballad) The words are not yet quite complete at the time of typing this…

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Beyond the Rain

rainbowThe piano solo ‘Beyond the Rain’ probably goes back to around 1982 when the tune was written to fit Jane Carol Stallwood’s famous lyrics ‘You will Never Know How Much It Hurt’ also became included in ”The Angel of Derry” (from ‘The Angel of Derry’ lyrics Jane Caroll)

And now the threads of time
Run through my broken dreams again
Too hurt to feel, to know what’s really true
Why do I hear the things my heart would never listen to.

To lose is not to die
But now I’m on my own again I miss you so,
but pride won’t let me show
How much it hurt to hide the pain inside and let you go.

To lose is not to die
And life would take my hand again
I’ll touch the stars that shine beyond the rain
And you will never know how much it hurt to let you go
And you will never know how much it hurt to let you go…

I try to understand
And watch you walk away
from all we planned
But if you came back to me
Night would show the day to me Oh no…

One day I may drown in my own arpeggios…

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I Love the Rain

dancing_rainI really do love rain, although having said that, I love most natural phenomena, but especially anything water related – waterfalls; rivers; becks; lakes; rain; snow; rainbows, even cloud formations etc. I don’t particularly have any morbid desires to drown as far as I know… I only have to think of anything watery and (having first visited the loo) I begin writing all these terrible sloppy tunes. I am really sorry for those people that hate this kind of piano mush but I can’t help it. I am trapped in this vaporous purgatroid of compositional liquidatory self-harm…

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River of Peace

peaceriverRiver of Peace was originally written for my Irish Suite (Angel of Derry) and was called ”Your Peace will flow like a river… The arrangement was for Flute and Harp with string orchestra. I love the Bible and many of my tunes have scriptural inspiration. This tune is no exception – Rev.22:1 Isa.66:12 (part a)

The ‘Irish Suite’ and subsequently the ‘Angel of Derry’ unfortunately never materialized. It was rearranged in 2007 and included in the CD ‘Valley of the Ice Flowers’

The first section written in C minor was not included in the original.

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Rhapsody for Utøya

A retro (alla Warsaw Concerto) tribute to 77 wasted lives. I watched a T.V. report showing how this murderer is being given 5 star treatment and ‘human rights’ in the ‘prison’ prior to his trial. I wrote this music the same day (14th April 2012) There is no real anger in the music, ( I don’t really do musical anger) but there is passion, sadness and frustration… but then there is also a sense of joy in the hope of eternal justice and resurrection. The music does not in any way reflect the diabolical scenes on that day, I was just mindful of the total despair of all of the people affected. I plagiarised the small coda from Sindings ‘Rustle of Spring’ a piece I loved when learning piano (about 14).

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Sophie

Sophie_and_MillieSophie is one of our grandchildren and often spends weekends with us. While I was writing one particular piece on the piano, Sophie would come in and listen. Sophie obviously likes this kind of music (probably cos’ it sounds like ‘One Direction’ or wotever) Anyway she graciously allowed me to use her name. We took the photo of Sophie and Millie (the puppy) the same day.

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Guess who Loves You

cindy2It was Saturday morning February 11th and for once the postman arrived in the morning. I blearily checked through the mail and noticed that one of the dozens (only joking) of this year’s batch of Valentine cards was from ‘Cindy’. After excitedly reading Cindy’s letter, I placed the card on the piano and sat down for my morning doodle. Looking at the card with Cindy peering through the heart shaped cut-out, with the words ‘Guess who loves you’ eating at MY heart, I began to write my only tune so far this year…

Cindy is one the dogs we sponsor at the ‘Dogs Trust’ www.sponsoradog.org.uk since we lost our own dog. Please click on the thumbnails below to see Cindy’s card.

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This is Monday (The Time is Wright)

Most Monday evenings for the last 20 years Tim (Wright) has come along for firstly, piano tuition (achieved grade 7) and then singing and recording in our small studio. I wrote this piece while waiting, and then Tim didn’t come that night. I finished the piece though.

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Ring the Curtain (One Last Time)

Another song waiting for the lyrics to arrive. Actually this piece doesn’t need lyrics. It is meant to portrait the desperation in every artiste who may have reached the point when the last curtain call is inevitable. The music may also suggest some happy memories drifting through the mind.

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Valldemossa

SpainThe lovely mountain village on Majorca I still remember from my visit a long time ago. This music has nothing to do with the Chopin/George Sands connection who apparently spent an unpleasant winter there. My memories are of the little mountain rail journey, strolling through orange and lemon groves, horse riding, secret beaches around Soller, bathing in freezing mountain springs… wonderful.

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Bavarian Journey

I spent several years working in Germany firstly with a Country band called ‘Country Rose’ which plied their trade on U.S. and U.K. military bases. This piece was inspired by something entirely different though. I have also arranged this piece for flute/piano (Orchestra page)

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To Fall in Love

This makes a beautiful tune without the words but it really needs lyrics to become a West End/Broadway hit.

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Summer

summerThis tune nicely encapsulates lazy Summer days. The Db major (semiquavers) broken chord section makes me imagine gentle streams and green wildflower meadows. But maybe this is a song about a girl called ‘Summer’

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She’s just like a Sixties Girl

hippie-236x288

A really nice stand-alone piano melody envoking the ‘sixties’. It will soon become a song, hopefully.

I am working on two lyric versions for this tune. One each for either male or female vocalist. The female version will probably be entitled ‘Feeling like a Sixties Girl’

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One Day Soon

SammyThis was especially written on 25th December 2015 for my Granddaughter Sammie who popped round to show me her new clarinet! I usually write music on Christmas day out of boredom and to escape from the Tele’. As one of the isolated few Christmas non-celebrants, all friends and family avoid me like the plague.

This piece could have probably travelled much further but ‘er’ indoors had a (justified) wobbly about about me locking myself away for hours on end when more important events like ‘Strictly Come Downton Midwives was on…

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Paul’s Lament

Paul has been a family friend for 20 odd years and even used to compere our pupil concerts every year. He challenged me to write a Gymnopedie (whatever one actually is) and the result was this lamentable effort. Paul seemed to like it though. I also considered calling it ‘Saties-Faction’ (or maybe ‘Saties Factory’) but it became more and more witless by the minute…

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This is Monday (The Time is Wright)

Most Monday evenings for the last 20 years Tim (Wright) has come along for firstly, piano tuition (achieved grade 7) and then singing and recording in our small studio. I wrote this piece while waiting, and then Tim didn’t come that night. I finished the piece though.

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This is My Day

This was written on 11th February 2017. I hadn’t written a concert study for piano for some time so I knocked this out… It seems to have inherited reflections from my some of my earlier pieces. A delightful and joyful opening followed by a darker middle section. This could be an ideal piece for concert or recital.

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Chanson pour Jeanne

 

This was written on 14th February 2017. Jane has had a rough few days so this is for her. There are Chopin and Debussy ambiances. Very sad and beautiful solo piano piece. My wife Jane was feeling very poorly and depressed on Valentine’s Day and so I wrote this really depressing tune for her. (I wasn’t thinking!)
The 2nd track was programmed (not ‘played’) using the Ravenscroft plugin and Garritan strings.

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Étude en violet

I was playing around with these chord sequences and warming up the old Arthritic digits when I thought I would write it down as a study – as I hadn’t actually written anything new in 2018. It seems that any inspiration I had once is completely gone now but anyhow I won’t give up (yet).

A lovely piano study piece invoking two contrasting moods. The opening wistful 8 bars in C major is followed by a frenetic and challenging quasi-Beethoven section which quickly sequences through several keys (Cm/Gm/Dm/Am/Em/Bm etc.) before returning to the beautiful melody in C major for the final 32 bars. This would serve as an ideal recital piece. (Musicaneo)

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Étude en Bleu

This was written on 14th February 2018.

This melody in E minor seemed to cling around in my synapses for a day or two so I thought I better pen it before it wandered off into the Aether, never to be seen (or heard) again.

A very sad piece which immediately reminded me of the typical style Richard Clayderman would have relished in the days when the piano actually made the popular charts. Too nice now for this world though, more the pity. (Musicaneo)

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Étude en Indigo

This was written on 21st February 2018.

This study has a lot more shades than purple but the name is really just a name and is not fully descriptive of the piece. There are basically seven main colours in the rainbow as there are seven white notes on the piano keyboard so the musical palette has many ‘colours’ at its disposal. My ‘rainbow’ series of studies apart from helping me to pick up a little French language gives me a single shade starting point for inspiration (like a mood) but then I will always vere off course somewhat. The opening melody in A major is a little melancholy and makes me imagine lyrics like ‘This lonely night’ etc. There is then a short concerto style cameo followed by a more joyous version of the opening melody leading back to a repeat of the 1st subject.

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Étude en Jaune

This was written on 25th February 2018.

This study is very ‘classical’ (actually Baroque style) and is made difficult by the speed I have set (180MM) but it is a pleasure to play. The middle section (not baroque) is quite tricky to perfect on account of the poly-rhythms and it took me awhile to get it to sound right in my recording. I may change it later for something more in keeping with the style. I’ve always thought D major is a ‘yellow’ key, it can exude a tangy sharpness while being sunnily optimistic. (Musicaneo)

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Étude en Vert

This was written on 27th February 2018.

This study is pastoral in nature and has a alternate title ‘L’Hirondelle’ (The Swallow) suggesting early Summer. I tried to invoke the feeling of meadows and streams throughout. I shudder to think what the oohs and aahhs represent! (they were an afterthought).

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Monsieur Clayderman

This was written on 25th October 2018.

This was written as a tribute to Richard Clayderman and those distant days of yore when one could get into the top twenty by twinkly away on a piano and sporting matching white teeth and a fetching sickly smile. Nowadays instrumental music is unfortunately virtually unheard of unless confined in concert and recital halls. I have now realised I had already penned a Clayderman style piece (Etude en Bleu). Nevermind, I will probably end up with a CD full!

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Chanson d’automne

This was written on 5th November 2018.

After reading beautiful poems about seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness I wanted to write something a little melancholy to evoke this time of year. I ended up with this pleasant little tune and continued my tradition of naming it in French. (Song of Autumn) I must have been French in another life!

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Première Impression

This was written on 10/11th November 2019.

I was listening to some contemporary piano music and although I appreciate the complexity and uniqueness of the pieces, I find many a little robotic and overly dissonant. Anyway it is not my gift to emulate modern piano styles, so here is my impressionistic offering which I, at least have affection for. I must stop the French thing before it becomes a paradigm.

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Sequence Dance

This was written on 13th/14th May 2019.

My wife and I have recently joined a sequence dancing club as we have reached a certain age where Darby & Joan style occasions seem appropriate (rather than our former Hell’s Angels days of yore) Anyway this piece has nothing to do with the ‘Chicago Swing’ or the ‘Sally Anne Cha Cha’ but is more like a ‘Baroque’ keyboard style piece with plenty of ‘sequencies’ included. It makes quite a good study for the later Grades. I have orchestrated this piece and called it ‘Divertimento No. 1’ which can be heard on the Orchestra page.

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