Rue

So...why didn't the Germans keep up with the Italians?

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11 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

Or; modern makers going back to the late 1700's have relied on some guy they don't know, only his work, as a crutch and an advertising aid, trying to make it sound like their good ole' buddies with Strad and his methods...

You kinda nailed it on the head there, I struggle to think of many people who have/do not rely on comparing their instruments to Italian instruments of pedigree as a sales point, or something like "see look how good I am, I do it just like Strad did"

To a certain extent I would consider this "point" to be the entire point of my angle, which is to be an opposite to the norm, instead of promoting myself as "being close to Strad"  I have always striven, in violins and guitars, to promote myself as being far away from that "normal" as possible. 

I think Strad and the mythology has been a very double edged sword for the society of those who continue the tradition of building stringed instruments.

I you do not follow the norm you risk financial failure, if you choose the safety of a known way, you choose the safe and easy way out, which leads to comfort...but imo lacks artistic bravery that may or may not lead things in a new direction.

I will not be a slave to an old dead Italian man just because everybody else is, partly, because for me, it just does not feel right and partly because it is really just as weird as it sounds when you think about it.

And for what it's worth, as a note for "inspiration" to anyone out there who may be reading this and has a desire to go their own way, stepping away from the Italians and Martins...

Lili Haydn, a great musician and player who owns one of my vso's has been nominated for a Grammy this year , if she wins, that will be a total of 3 Grammy winning clients under my belt, the belt of someone who intentionally went left when every one else went right.

I mention this not to toot my horn, but more to inspire people to know there is another world outside of what "everyone" tells you, but you'll never see it unless you go there and you'll never understand it's value unless you try. Value is not always money

[Mutters something about "...half a league onward"]  Oh dear heavens!  What a remarkable farrago of noble sentiments and romantic hogwash.  "[A]rtistic bravery"!   Somehow I get an impression of you charging a small horde of tubby critics with a varnish brush en garde:lol::P

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6 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

One should not underestimate the difficulties and the limited reliability of own sound-evaluations. The best chances for such have soloists with their great access to many concert-halls in real live - performances with audience. 

You just impaled yourself on one of my puns.  Hurrah!  :lol:

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8 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

You just impaled yourself on one of my puns.  Hurrah!  :lol:

Go easy on Danube Fiddler, VdA. As Victor Borge would say, I don't think English is his language, he's just borrowing it.

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12 minutes ago, Michael Appleman said:

Go easy on Danube Fiddler, VdA. As Victor Borge would say, I don't think English is his language, he's just borrowing it.

One hopes he brings it back in good condition.  :lol:;)

I'm much more impressed with his second language skills than with his arguments, but I'll concede your point..  :)

 

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

I won't deny that Vuillaumes are capable of being excellent soloist instruments, but really it's 1 in 10, if that. And unlike Stradivari, 1 in 4 is really poor. 

The fact that Hilary Hahn (I'm not on first name terms with her) has a good Vuillaume or that Tetzlaff loves his Greiner doesn't tell us anything about the maker as a whole. When it comes to preferences for new makers, I think Michael's story hits the nail on the head. Success begets success - many players care little for nuance, have no time to shop around, and will go with an established maker. In this scenario they are reassured by a long waiting list and a hefty price tag.

 Although I agree with both the point of the story from Michael, and your basic point, I think the truest measure is the resale market: how many even come up for resale, and what they sell for. 

It makes sense that a very prolific maker will see his prices decrease on the resale market, Unless demand remains high. A less prolific maker may see the same dip but for different reasons. When the maker dies, the equation changes a little bit because there is now a finite quantity, whether large or small. But if a living maker sees his instruments for sale on the used market for less than he is charging now, that means something. The Zygmuntovich headed for auction is an example. The advantage of an auction is fast money, rather than top dollar, But I don’t know what it sold for nor why it was sold. But that violin was competing against Samuel’s waiting list.

If prices on the used market consistently remain high, that’s probably a testament to the quality of the maker.

Edited by PhilipKT
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31 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

[Mutters something about "...half a league onward"]  Oh dear heavens!  What a remarkable farrago of noble sentiments and romantic hogwash.  "[A]rtistic bravery"!   Somehow I get an impression of you charging a small horde of tubby critics with a varnish brush en garde:lol::P

I am scrolling backwards, so I am actually reading the comments from the bottom up, and is soon as I saw yours I knew it was from you, I was laughing even before I finished reading. You and Rue, siblings be and wonderfully clever, each.

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Jezzupe--

Congrats with those Emmys! Great to hear that.

I take your point about a general cultural pressure to follow norms.   But you can also break norms by too literally pursuing making as the old guys did.  That is not actually the current standard.

Vuillaume much more accurately represents the norm for modern building: a cleaned up, modern methods bench copy of a classical instrument. 

The norm is not to revive making as they did, but to make a copy by modernized means, implying that your instruments captures some sort of balance between advantages of the old models, scientific understanding, and modernized precision.

In truth, the current norms are more enemy than friend if you set about to actually revive an old style making.

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1 hour ago, jezzupe said:

Or; modern makers going back to the late 1700's have relied on some guy they don't know, only his work, as a crutch and an advertising aid, trying to make it sound like their good ole' buddies with Strad and his methods...

You kinda nailed it on the head there, I struggle to think of many people who have/do not rely on comparing their instruments to Italian instruments of pedigree as a sales point, or something like "see look how good I am, I do it just like Strad did"

To a certain extent I would consider this "point" to be the entire point of my angle, which is to be an opposite to the norm, instead of promoting myself as "being close to Strad"  I have always striven, in violins and guitars, to promote myself as being far away from that "normal" as possible. 

I think Strad and the mythology has been a very double edged sword for the society of those who continue the tradition of building stringed instruments.

I you do not follow the norm you risk financial failure, if you choose the safety of a known way, you choose the safe and easy way out, which leads to comfort...but imo lacks artistic bravery that may or may not lead things in a new direction.

I will not be a slave to an old dead Italian man just because everybody else is, partly, because for me, it just does not feel right and partly because it is really just as weird as it sounds when you think about it.:lol:

And for what it's worth, as a note for "inspiration" to anyone out there who may be reading this and has a desire to go their own way, stepping away from the Italians and Martins...

Lili Haydn, a great musician and player who owns one of my vso's has been nominated for a Grammy this year , if she wins, that will be a total of 3 Grammy winning clients under my belt, the belt of someone who intentionally went left when every one else went right.

I mention this not to toot my horn, but more to inspire people to know there is another world outside of what "everyone" tells you, but you'll never see it unless you go there and you'll never understand it's value unless you try. Value is not always money

Do you make cellos??

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3 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

1) Strads don´t reveal their secret in the dealer-makers shop or on his bench - at least until now they did not.      

The American history of violin making shows that they do reveal their secrets.

In the early 19th century America was not lacking in people skilled in fine wood-working, but the violins that they made were idiosyncratic because they had no exposure to fine European violins. They had no good models and often worked from pictures and memories.

In the second half of the 19th century European musicians began touring American cities, and bringing their fine Italian violins with them. These violins needed maintenance and repairs, and so American luthiers had the opportunity to study and model them. Plus, European luthiers began to immigrate to America, bringing their skills with them. Thus, as the “degrees of separation” between Stradivari and the Americans closed, American luthiers began to build world-class violins.

It is a silly argument to make that simply being exposed to fine instruments is enough to make one a great maker. In isn’t, anymore than being able to play Bach should automatically make one a great classical player. It is necessary, but not sufficient.

Perhaps the question should now be why haven’t the German and Italian makers kept up with the Americans? :D:ph34r:

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2 hours ago, Michael Appleman said:

 I have a friend who's an excellent violinist, medalist at Tchaikovsky and currently leader of a good orchestra here in France. As an Aussie, she had a long term loan of a fine Milan Guad from her regional government, and used it to win her medal in Moscow, and as a touring soloist for the years following her prize. After a while, she settled down to start a family and was offered the position she currently holds. Then, the regional council asked for the Guad back to give it to the next up and coming local soloist. Her own personal violin was a fairly awful English violin, but she's a fine player so she made do, looking for something that could come close to the Guad she had to give up. In the mean time, soloists would come and play with the orchestra, including a certain German who plays Greiners, and others who play Ziggys. She got to try their violins and was sold on their qualities, so she got on the waiting list. I was with her when she got her Ziggy. It's an excellent fiddle, and has been serving her well since. She just didn't have the time or the desire to go around and try everything under the sun, and getting to try visiting soloists' modern fiddles saved her the hastle. Since then, I think 3 other violinists in the section have placed orders...

That is a very good story, I agree completely, and it’s actually how I ended up with my lifetime companion, a David Caron(with apparently nontraditional varnish, but I digress). I have many colleagues with Caron instruments, including two cellos-now three-And the overall body of work is so consistent, and the quality of the two cellos I played was so good and so much better than the other modern instruments that I had played that point, that I bought one.

personal experience is the best endorsement, but also necessary is a frame of reference. You’ll never know whether the price you’re paying is reasonable until you play lots of other similar instruments. So I’m also a cello nerd( so we are brothers!) and I play as many modern instruments as possible.

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22 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

The American history of violin making shows that they do reveal their secrets.

In the early 19th century America was not lacking in people skilled in fine wood-working, but the violins that they made were idiosyncratic because they had no exposure to fine European violins. They had no good models and often worked from pictures and memories.

In the second half of the 19th century European musicians began touring American cities, and bringing their fine Italian violins with them. These violins needed maintenance and repairs, and so American luthiers had the opportunity to study and model them. Plus, European luthiers began to immigrate to America, bringing their skills with them. Thus, as the “degrees of separation” between Stradivari and the Americans closed, American luthiers began to build world-class violins.

It is a silly argument to make that simply being exposed to fine instruments is enough to make one a great maker. In isn’t, anymore than being able to play Bach should automatically make one a great classical player. It is necessary, but not sufficient.

Perhaps the question should now be why haven’t the German and Italian makers kept up with the Americans? :D:ph34r:

I will venture a two part answer.

America had/has:

1) a larger stronger economy.  Instruments, ideas, and people came here.    i.e. Sacconi helped things change.  Are we counting him as Italian or American?

2) Less resistance to trying new ideas and ways. (at least until quite recently).

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1 hour ago, Danube Fiddler said:

who misunderstands this part, can come to the conclusion, that sound is not paid.

You keep banging this tired old drum ...

My own experience is that clients are predominantly interested in sound, and most take extraordinary pains to be sure they are getting the most suitable sound within their budget. I would sell no violins if I wasn't extremely (and only) concerned about sound.

However, pricing is not to do with sound except in a historical sense, and in the sense that Strads and DG are generally accepted as the best violins for classical solo performance. Everything in pricing relates in some way to that, by and large. "Value" and "valuation" are not the same things - I value very highly certain violins to which the market doesn't accord a high valuation. But I wouldn't charge more for any violin because it sounds good - rather I would try to have nothing to do with the ones that don't.

So, to use your expression FOR THE LAST TIME :P I don't need to play a violin to price it or appraise it for insurance or establish a fair market value. But I do need to play it to know if I can sell it, and if I want to sell it. I spend the majority of my life playing violins, probably a couple of thousand every year, and risking my money and sometimes other peoples' money on a judgment of sound quality. So for God's sake stop advancing this ridiculous and mistaken caricature of my position - it suggests some loss of rational faculty or some deep-seated grievance which actually has nothing to do with me.

However, every client for a violin has already determined their budget, and has a vast array of presuppositions about which makers they should be interested in, and what they should be spending in relation to their sense of themselves as a player. Sometimes this thinking is erroneous, prejudiced, or based on poor second-hand advice or peer pressure - there is a massive prejudice towards Italian violins, and a predisposition to like the sound far more than a much better violin which is in fact French or from Prague or wherever. The other significant prejudice is that a rank and file orchestral player should be looking for a soloist sound.

 

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2 minutes ago, martin swan said:

> The other significant prejudice is that a rank and file orchestral player should be looking for a soloist sound.

 

What do orchestra concertmasters want?  

I don't seem to be penetrating the soloist market very well.

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1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

You just impaled yourself on one of my puns.  Hurrah!  :lol:

Not at all. While I was afraid from the very beginning to not have understood the exact content/intention of your sentences - however my answer is independent from your post my actual opinion - BUT it does not mean to make no efforts of own evaluations. The opposite is, what I think : needed are own evaluations so much as possible, so careful as possible, together with the best musiscians, you can meet, in so many as possible different concert-halls, in so many as possible real concert-situations....and in spite of all that to know the limitations. Besides all own limitations, you can hope, that the historical sound-evaluation (displayed in prices) of any maker will give you additional sound-informations about a lot of very different situations, expressive potentials, you couldn´t not evaluate by yourself in a short time of some weeks, in limited access to halls, concert-situations, different music, different climates, and limited own playing skills or these of your advisors.

Only when all fits, a carefully done comprehensive own evaluation and the historical appreciation/price of the concerned maker - only then you have the maximal achievable safety in sound- quality, only then i.m.o. you are allowed to buy. That´s it.

34 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

What do orchestra concertmasters want?  

I don't seem to be penetrating the soloist market very well.

All want the same, a soloistic instrument. Indeed many Strads served a long time as "tutti" instruments, which is not the worst for any Strad, compared to some other possibilities.

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14 minutes ago, Danube Fiddler said:

Not at all. While I was afraid from the very beginning to not have understood the exact content/intention of your sentences - however my answer is independent from your post my actual opinion - BUT it does not mean to make no efforts of own evaluations. The opposite is, what I think : needed are own evaluations so much as possible, so careful as possible, together with the best musiscians, you can meet, in so many as possible different concert-halls, in so many as possible real concert-situations....and in spite of all that to know the limitations. Besides all own limitations, you can hope, that the historical sound-evaluation (displayed in prices) of any maker will give you additional sound-informations about a lot of very different situations, expressive potentials, you couldn´t not evaluate by yourself in a short time of some weeks, in limited access to halls, concert-situations, different music, different climates, and limited own playing skills or these of your advisors.

Only when all fits, a carefully done comprehensive own evaluation and the historical appreciation/price of the concerned maker - only then you have the maximal achievable safety in sound- quality, only then i.m.o. you are allowed to buy. That´s it.

All want the same, a soloistic instrument. Indeed many Strads served a long time as "tutti" instruments, which is not the worst for any Strad, compared to some other possibilities.

By "sound decisions", I meant "wise decisions", and was using "sound" in one of its adjectival meanings,not as a noun.  The unrelated noun and the context, made this a pun. 

I meant that to make independent decisions, one must not be too lazy to "do one's homework".  :)

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On 2/1/2019 at 6:36 PM, martin swan said:

The value of a violin relates to its degree of separation from a Stradivari (or a DG), nothing else.

Being made in the same country as a Stradivari gets you higher up the list and makes up for all sorts of other shortcomings - terrible model, poor workmanship, inconsequential sound etc. 

This profound injustice is the reason why so many great contemporary makers are pissed off most of the time ... 

For every one of the really good Italian makers post-Stradivari you can find a Prague/English/Dutch/French/South German maker who consistently produces a similar quality of sound for a fraction of the market value. 

WHat Martin describes has been the case for many centuries, but now modern makers from Italy don't have much of an advantage any more. American violins are now probably the most expensive, driven by soloists who used their instruments (e.g. Stern and Zygmutovicz).

If one wants a 19th or 20th century violin there are some real beauties from German makers. Gärtner, Winterling are among my favourite 20th century makers. Investment wise it is Italian (Fagnola, Oddone, Bisiach ...).  They were also good, but not better than the best German makers of that time.

Much of this market is now driven by Asian buyers. Unlikely that German violins will surge in value, maybe except for good authentic Kloz family violins.

For good German instruments it is a buyer's market.

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34 minutes ago, uguntde said:

If one wants a 19th or 20th century violin there are some real beauties from German makers. Gärtner, Winterling are among my favourite 20th century makers. Investment wise it is Italian (Fagnola, Oddone, Bisiach ...).  They were also good, but not better than the best German makers of that time.

There are also fabulous 19th and early 20th century American makers like John Friedrich, George Gemunder, Carl Becker, and Heinrich Richard Knopf, just to name a few. If you go into the lesser-known categories, you can find some gorgeous players that sound wonderful and are flat-out steals. I recently bought a 1908 Samuel R. Parker (I know, who's that, right?) from Ohio that can knock your socks off. Plus a George Millis that is insanely beautiful and can fill an auditorium. 

It isn't surprising that some unscrupulous dealers are replacing the original American-maker labels with obscure Italian-maker labels and then adding a zero or two onto the price tags. 

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3 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

What do orchestra concertmasters want?  

I don't seem to be penetrating the soloist market very well.

We recently sold a Tomaso Eberle to a concertmaster. It was a very archetypical Neapolitan violin - quite screechy close to the ear, not unattractive in sound but definitely "penetrating".

His main concern was that everyone in the orchestra (particularly the strings) could hear him, and he paid a lot of attention to the articulacy of the instrument in fast passages. We tested this with a few of his colleagues in a hall, and while everyone agreed it wasn't the nicest sounding or most sophisticated instrument I took along, they/we all agreed it was the most audible and the "crispest".

I think if he had been a soloist, he would also have wanted a more malleable or beautiful essential tone. 

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36 minutes ago, martin swan said:

We recently sold a Tomaso Eberle to a concertmaster. It was a very archetypical Neapolitan violin - quite screechy close to the ear, not unattractive in sound but definitely "penetrating".

His main concern was that everyone in the orchestra (particularly the strings) could hear him, and he paid a lot of attention to the articulacy of the instrument in fast passages. We tested this with a few of his colleagues in a hall, and while everyone agreed it wasn't the nicest sounding or most sophisticated instrument I took along, they/we all agreed it was the most audible and the "crispest".

I think if he had been a soloist, he would also have wanted a more malleable or beautiful essential tone. 

While I believe, it is not a good idea, that anyone some meters away can hear the concertmaster out of the first-violin-section in tutti music  - in the result this choice of your concertmaster - client seems to be not untypical.  However i.m.o. there would be another, better reason for such choice

Violin-solopassages in orchestral music normally are very short, mostly only few bars. That means, the concertmaster often doesn´t need a big choice of different expressive possibilities but can focus mainly on power. So in classical concerts you sometimes can hear both, a famous soloist with fine tone-colour, but may be in average not that loud and in the other pieces a concertmaster with quite penetrating sound-colour and eventually even more power than the soloist. The concertmaster often tries "to give all" in his few solo-bars and eventually looks for an optimal violin in this "task", while the soloist knows, that he is not allowed to give all in many bars because of the need to shape a whole movement and to keep reserves for highlights as also to bring some differing sound-colours, which don´t allow full power.

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10 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

What do orchestra concertmasters want?  

I don't seem to be penetrating the soloist market very well.

One concertmaster in my acquaintance plays a cheap German student violin. It is shrill enough to penetrate for the solos, weak enough not to cut through the rest of the strings unless he wants to, and cheap enough to risk using on outdoor concerts.

On the other hand, another one has a Michele Angelo Bergonzi on loan, but prefers his own composite Stradivarius. He plays far fewer outdoor performances, though.

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9 hours ago, Danube Fiddler said:

While I believe, it is not a good idea, that anyone some meters away can hear the concertmaster out of the first-violin-section in tutti music  - in the result this choice of your concertmaster - client seems to be not untypical.  However i.m.o. there would be another, better reason for such choice

Violin-solopassages in orchestral music normally are very short, mostly only few bars. That means, the concertmaster often doesn´t need a big choice of different expressive possibilities but can focus mainly on power. So in classical concerts you sometimes can hear both, a famous soloist with fine tone-colour, but may be in average not that loud and in the other pieces a concertmaster with quite penetrating sound-colour and eventually even more power than the soloist. The concertmaster often tries "to give all" in his few solo-bars and eventually looks for an optimal violin in this "task", while the soloist knows, that he is not allowed to give all in many bars because of the need to shape a whole movement and to keep reserves for highlights as also to bring some differing sound-colours, which don´t allow full power.

These are good points but actually the main concern he articulated was to do with being heard on rather dead stages when illustrating phrasing, bowing etc in rehearsal. 

But yes, the all-important "solo". I have had concertmasters and section leaders make a choice purely on the basis of a particular upcoming solo ...

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9 hours ago, martin swan said:

We recently sold a Tomaso Eberle to a concertmaster. It was a very archetypical Neapolitan violin - quite screechy close to the ear, not unattractive in sound but definitely "penetrating".

His main concern was that everyone in the orchestra (particularly the strings) could hear him, and he paid a lot of attention to the articulacy of the instrument in fast passages. We tested this with a few of his colleagues in a hall, and while everyone agreed it wasn't the nicest sounding or most sophisticated instrument I took along, they/we all agreed it was the most audible and the "crispest". 

I think if he had been a soloist, he would also have wanted a more malleable or beautiful essential tone. 

Very polite way of judging an instrument :). Most English concertmasters (orchestra leaders) can't afford anythng like that and still find good souding instruments.

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3 hours ago, Felefar said:

One concertmaster in my acquaintance plays a cheap German student violin. It is shrill enough to penetrate for the solos, weak enough not to cut through the rest of the strings unless he wants to, and cheap enough to risk using on outdoor concerts.

On the other hand, another one has a Michele Angelo Bergonzi on loan, but prefers his own composite Stradivarius. He plays far fewer outdoor performances, though.

Oh, we come back to the OP and the Germans come back ! 

I only can hope, that one doesn´t see at first sight, that it is a cheap student violin. Outdoor is another thing and there is safety first. 

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9 hours ago, Felefar said:

One concertmaster in my acquaintance plays a cheap German student violin. It is shrill enough to penetrate for the solos, weak enough not to cut through the rest of the strings unless he wants to, and cheap enough to risk using on outdoor concerts.

No doubt a highly independently minded individual of penetrating intellect and impeccable taste.  ^_^

Some of the usually ignored matters being illuminated here, IMHO, include that, even within the genre of classical music, and in the hands of experienced professional performers, there is not a single standard "sound" which is desired every time by everyone, but rather a range of them, chosen to suit the occasion.  Another point which emerges is that, when people start to discuss and compare their instruments at a practice, it's surprising what a diversity of instruments can actually sound good, and satisfy the performer, as well as how what one obtains from a fiddle is only tenuously connected to market value. 

Making things a sharp dichotomy between "Golden Cremonese" or "doo-doo" doesn't reflect reality.  :)

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