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Frequency Therapy in Music


The biological effects of frequencies to which we are constantly exposed have been researched over the last several decades, but considerably disregarded as therapeutically useful by the medical community. Although several studies suggest that emotions evoked by music may be useful in health care, alleviating stress and nociception in patients undergoing surgical procedures as well as in cancer treatment, little is known about the mechanisms by which these effects occur. It is generally accepted that the mechanosensory hair cells in the ear transduce the sound-induced mechanical vibrations into neural impulses, which are interpreted by the brain and evoke the emotional effects. In the last decade, however, several studies suggest that the response to frequencies and music is even more complex. Moreover, recent evidence has emerged that cell types other than auditory hair cells respond to audible sound. Additionally, many studies show unique biological effects of music frequencies on certain cell cultures.1, 2, 3, 4 We now know music or audible sounds (frequencies) can modulate physiological and pathophysiological processes.

Resonance

Science has proven that everything in the universe vibrates and resonates with a distinct unique frequency. A singer can break a glass by singing at a certain pitch. The frequency of that tone matches the natural frequency of the glass, shattering it. This is an example of resonance. Resonance is a phenomenon that occurs when a given system is driven by another vibrating system or external force to oscillate with greater amplitude at a specific preferential frequency. Resonance can occur when an object is vibrated at its natural frequency or naturally occurring frequencies, which is possible by music or chanting. The technique of repeated chanting during healing sessions is the best example of resonance, where the music played creates a resonance interference pattern resulting in a healing effect, attributed to the supernatural. Similarly, when people meditate together or recite a prayer or hymn, they initiate a non-local resonance, a process which may result in a positive effect due to focused attention. Brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing have been found to be thicker in those who meditate and chant daily in comparison to persons who do not, and the thickness of these areas has been found to increase with the number of years of meditation practice. Music can be stimulating, but depends on structural features such as tempo, pitch, frequency patterns, etc. which can be broadly categorized as pleasant or unpleasant by the listener. Continuous chanting can activate the oscillators and bring about a creation of a standing wave within the body, which apparently enhances the natural vibrational frequency of the body due to the presence of the same set of vibrational frequencies as the chant.

Music is made up of several frequencies and these frequencies are the key to understanding the physiological effect it creates on the overall system. When these vibrations resonate at a particular frequency or frequencies, it results in an interference pattern which can be constructive or destructive. Several frequencies are known to create constructive patterns within the brain which can enhance brain functioning and neuroplasticity. The following article discusses selective frequencies of music and their effect on physiology and emotion.

Solfeggio Scale

The Solfeggio tones or frequencies have a history that dates back centuries. Solfeggio, also called “Solfege” or “solfa,” is a system in which every note of a scale is given its own unique syllable, which is used to sing that note every time it appears. This six-note diatonic musical scale was credited to Guido d’Arezzo, a Benedictine Monk, around 1,000 A.D. to teach his students how to sight sing plainchant repertoire. Prior to his system, the chants were passed down by rote and it took the monks nearly a decade to learn all of them. With only minor changes, we still use Guido’s system of sight singing and musical notation today. In a sense, Guido is the father of modern ear training and sight singing.

Guido developed this six-note ascending scale that went as follows: Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, and La.

A familiar example of the use of these tones and frequencies: the Gregorian Chants that Gregorian monks would recite during meditation, believed to bring about spiritual awakening when the frequencies were sung in harmony.

Solfege was used extensively by singers throughout history to learn chants and songs more easily. “Ut” was changed in 1600 in Italy to the open syllable “Do”, at the suggestion of the musicologue Giovanni Battista Doni. A seventh note, “Si” was also added sometime afterward (from the initials for “Sancte Iohannes”) to complete the seven-note diatonic scale. In Anglo-Saxon countries, “Si” was changed to “Ti” by Sarah Glover in the 19th century so that every syllable might begin with a different letter.

Today we know the Solfeggio scale as seven ascending notes assigned to the syllables Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti. A major or a minor scale (the most common scales in Western classical music) has seven notes, and so the Solfeggio system has seven basic syllables. The original scale was six ascending notes assigned to Ut-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La. Thus, the Solfeggio “frequencies” are based on an ancient 6-tone scale. Each frequency of the 6-tone scale is believed to have a certain mind-body effect that is physical, spiritual, and emotional. Sound is an excellent method for evoking a deep stimulation at a cellular level as sound can travel five times faster in water than air.

The A C Major scale is made up of these seven notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B (often continuing to a C, an octave above the first one). If we were to sing this major scale on solfege, the C would always be sung as “Do”, the D would always be sung as “Re”, and so on. The whole scale looks like this in Solfeggio:

C D E F G A B

do re mi fa sol la ti

In other octaves – for example, an octave above or below – the Solfeggio syllables stay the same.

There are two kinds of Solfeggio systems: “fixed Do” and “movable Do”. In a movable-do system, the note to which is assigned the syllable “Do” is the main note, or “tonic,” of the key and scale that we’re in. For example, if we were in D Major (instead of C major like before), D would be sung as “Do”, with E being sung as “Re”, F# being sung as “Mi”, and so on. This system is most common in the United States and Canada, although it can be found in conservatories in other countries as well.

Most common in Europe and Asia is “fixed do.” In fixed-do systems, every note has a Solfeggio syllable associated with it all the time, regardless of the key or scale. Each note’s solfege is pulled from the C Major scale, so they are sung using the syllables in the scale shown above. It does not matter whether the melody is in F major, B minor, or any other key; C is always sung as “Do”, F as “Fa”, and B as “Ti”. The original Solfeggio system was a fixed-do system, and many musicians still believe strongly that it is a more effective system than the movable-do alternative.

Dr. Joseph Puleo’s Interpretation of Solfege

Dr. Joseph Puleo, a naturopathic physician and herbalist, began exploring the Solfeggio in the 1990s. He developed a theory that each of the six frequencies carried precise characteristics, and that the tones could be used therapeutically. Leonard G. Horowitz and Dr. Puleo co-wrote Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse, which describes how the six frequencies were related to the Pythagorean method of numeral reduction. Using this method, Dr. Puleo discovered the pattern of six repeating codes from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 7, verses 12 through 83. (The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah.)

There is a simple mathematical reduction method, based on an ancient Pythagorean principle, that can be used to turn numbers greater than 9 into single digits. The values of all digits in the number are added up. When after the first addition the number still contains more than one digit, the process is repeated. Here is an example: 456 can be reduced to 4+5+6 = 15, and subsequently reduced to 1+5=6. So, the number 456 reduces eventually to the single digit 6.

Dr. Puleo found repetitions of a single issue or subject in the Book of Numbers. In Chapter 7, verse 12 he found a reference to the first day, the second day was mentioned in verse 18, the third day in verse 24, and so forth until the final reference in verse 78 which speaks of the twelfth day.

The Pythagorean reduction of these verse numbers is:

Verse 12 = 1 + 2 = 3

Verse 18 = 1 + 8 = 9

Verse 24 = 2 + 4 = 6

Verse 30 = 3 + 0 = 3

Verse 36 = 3 + 6 = 9

Verse 42 = 4 + 2 = 6

…until verse 78 - Thus, there is a repetition of 396. This is the first frequency.

An interesting note is that Nikola Tesla, the father of electromagnetic engineering and scientist known for designing the alternating-current electric system, once said, “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would hold a key to the universe”.

Dr. Puleo found the next frequency by looking at verse 13, which speaks of an offering. Six verses down, which is verse 19, the same offering or idea is repeated, six verses down at verse 25 there is another repeat, etc. Thus, by using the Pythagorean method of reduction, again he discovered a pattern. This pattern is 417 which is the second frequency. The rest of the frequencies were found using the same method.

SomaEnergetics by David Hulse

Moving further down a different rabbit hole, we can explore how Solfeggio frequencies can affect the mind-body physiology. “SomaEnergetics” is a series of sound therapy techniques developed by David Hulse, a brilliant sound therapist, at the turn of the century using the ancient Solfeggio frequencies. The following are the original frequencies (ascribed mind-body “intent” or effects) as described by David Hulse.

UT – 396 Hz. Intent: turning grief into joy, liberating guilt & fear. This frequency liberates the energy and has beneficial effects on feelings of guilt. It cleanses the feeling of guilt, which often represents one of the basic obstacles to realization, enabling achievement of goals in the most direct way. The Ut tone releases you from the feelings of guilt and fear by bringing down defense mechanisms. 396 Hz frequency searches out hidden blockages, subconscious negative beliefs, and ideas that have led to your present situations. (Associated with Root Chakra)

RE – 417 Hz. Intent: undoing situations and facilitating change. The next main tone from the Solfeggio scale produces energy to bring about change. This frequency cleanses traumatic experiences and clears destructive influences of past events. When speaking of cellular processes, tone Re encourages the cell and its functions in an optimal way. 417 Hz frequency puts you in touch with an inexhaustible source of energy that allows you to change your life. (Associated with Sacral Chakra)

MI – 528 Hz. Intent: transformation and miracles (DNA repair). Tone Mi is used to return human DNA to its original, perfect state. This frequency brings transformation and miracles into your life. The process of DNA reparation is followed by beneficial effects – increased amount of life energy, clarity of mind, awareness, awakened or activated creativity, ecstatic states like deep inner peace, dance and celebration. Tone Mi activates your imagination, intention and intuition to operate for your highest and best purpose. (Associated with Solar Plexus Chakra)

FA – 639 Hz. Intent: re-connecting with family and balancing, relationships. Another frequency from the sacred Solfeggio scale. It enables creation of harmonious community and harmonious interpersonal relationships. Tone Fa can be used for dealing with relationships problems – in one’s family, between partners, friends or social problems. When talking about cellular processes, 639 Hz frequency can be used to encourage the cell to communicate with its environment. This ancient Solfeggio frequency enhances communication, understanding, tolerance and love. (Associated with Heart Chakra)

SOL – 741 Hz. Intent: solving problems, expressions/solutions. It cleans the cell from toxins. Frequent use of 741 Hz leads to a healthier, simpler life, and to changes in diet towards foods which are not poisoned by various kinds of toxins. Tone Sol cleans the cell from different kinds of electromagnetic radiations. Another application of this sound frequency is solving problems of any nature. The fifth frequency of the Solfeggio scale will also lead you into the power of self-expression, which results in a pure and stable life. (Associated with Throat Chakra)

LA – 852 Hz. Intent: awakening intuition, returning to spiritual order Tone La is linked to your ability to see through the illusions of your life, such as hidden agendas of people, places and things. This frequency can be used as a means for opening a person up for communication with the all-embracing Spirit. It raises awareness and lets you return to spiritual order. Regarding cellular processes, 852 Hz enables the cell to transform itself into a system of higher level. (Associated with Third Eye Chakra)

Additional research conducted by Dr. Leonard Horowitz claims to have revealed three more Solfeggio frequencies:174 Hz, 285 Hz, 963 Hz. When added to the six original Solfeggio frequencies, they create three perfect triads of notes: 3 x 3 = 9. 9 being the sacred number of completions.

The following are their assigned effects according to Dr. Horowitz:

SI – 963 Hz. This tone awakens any system to its original, perfect state. According to Dr. Horowitz, this frequency re-connects the individual with the Spirit, or the non-vibrational energies of the spiritual world. It enables us to experience Oneness – our true nature. (Associated with Crown Chakra)

174 Hz. The lowest of the tones appears to be a natural anesthetic. It tends to reduce pain physically and emotionally. 174 Hz frequency gives organs a sense of security, safety and love, encouraging them to do their best.

285 Hz. This frequency helps return tissue to its original blueprint or form. 285 Hz influences energy fields, sending them a message to restructure damaged organs. It also leaves the body rejuvenated and energized.

Unfortunately, by the 16th century, the Solfeggio scale was lost or abandoned, though the exact cause is unknown. Some say the Solfeggio was simply abandoned for a new music scale, others argue that it disappeared among the political and religious turmoil of Western Europe’s Middle Ages, and there are even some who posit some more, well, conspiratorial theories, from Biblical secrets to plots by the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever the cause, the six-tone Solfeggio, also known as “Just Intonation”, was replaced by the “Twelve-Tone Equal Temperament”, which is what we still use today.

The Twelve-Tone Equal Temperament System

The Twelve-Tone Equal Temperament System has been the most common tuning system in use for approximately the past 200 years. The Twelve-Tone Equal Temperament System divides the octave into 12 equally spaced parts or 12 equal semitones. It is common practice to state musical intervals in cents, where 100¢ is defined as one equal tempered semitone. The cents notation provides a useful way to compare intervals in different temperaments and to decide whether those differences are musically significant. This system has been tuned relative to a standard pitch of “A” being-440 Hertz, called A-440 on a small level. Again, A-440 is an arbitrary standard. The American Federation of Musicians accepted A440 as standard pitch in 1917.

It was then accepted by the U.S. government as its standard in 1920, but it was not until 1939 that this pitch was accepted internationally. In 1953, a worldwide agreement was signed, and signatories declared that middle “A” on the piano be forevermore tuned to exactly 440 Hz. This frequency became the standard ISO-16 reference for tuning all musical instruments based on the chromatic scale, the one most often used for music in the West. All the other notes are tuned in standard mathematical ratios leading to and from 440 Hz. In other words, once the initial pitch is chosen, the remaining strings must be tuned in accordance to that pitch.

This A-440 pitch standard is now universally accepted, which is why a piano in Toronto sounds the same as a piano in China. Thus, in practice, instruments are now tuned to a “tempered” frequency, a man-made adaptation questionably devised.

432 Hz Middle A, Fibonacci Sequence and the “Golden Ratio”

In the past, a variety of musical tunings were used. A-432 was often used by classical composers and the original Stradivarius' were designed to tune to A-432. Interestingly, the number 432 mathematically is connected to numbers used in the construction of a variety of ancient buildings and sacred sites, as well as in the construct of time and distance. Many music therapists and musicians claim that a more “natural” frequency for middle “A” is 432 Hz (also known as Verdi’s A) because it has a pure tone of math fundamental to nature and the universe and is in relationship to the “Golden Ratio”.

The Golden Ratio is a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. It is often symbolized using “phi”, after the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. In an equation form, it looks like this: a/b = (a+b)/a = 1.6180339887498948420

In more pure mathematical terms the golden ratio is (1 + sqrt(5) / 2)

The Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers that exhibits a fascinating numerical pattern that was originally discovered by Leonardo Pisano Bigollo. Famously known as Fibonacci, Leonardo was a 13th-century Italian mathematician who popularized the Hindu-Arabic number system in the Western World and introduced Europe to the sequence of Fibonacci numbers.

The numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence are formed by taking the sum of the previous two numbers in the series to arrive at the next number in the sequence. For example, the sequence starts by adding 0 and 1 together to equal 1. Then add 1 and 1 together to equal 2. Proceed in the same manner, adding the last two numbers of the sequence together to get the next number. The sequence of numbers begins to look like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144

The relationship between the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio occurs when you take any two adjacent numbers and divide the smaller number into the larger number, which results in a number close to 1.618. The further along the sequence you go, the resulting division of the small number into the next larger number gets closer and closer to 1.618. That number is commonly symbolized by the Greek letter “Phi” or known as the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio is found in the length and height of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Parthenon, and numerous other ancient structures.

Musical Scales

So, in relationship to music and music therapy, the Golden Ratio 1.618, has been used not only by architects and artisans, but also musicians to structure their artistic creations. Relationships between Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio are frequently found when analyzing the structure of classic compositions and musical patterns dating back several centuries. Without getting too far down the rabbit hole, we can even associate the Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Mean with note frequencies. The most pleasing combination of frequencies are those having simple ratios of harmonics that derive musical intervals. Notes in the Chromatic and Diatonic scales are based on natural harmonies that are created by ratios of frequencies. The Fibonacci numbers relate to ratios of harmonic frequencies because a root note has a ratio of 1/1, its octave has a ratio of 2/1, a fifth above it has a ratio of 3/2 and so on for the other notes in the scale. These simple ratios of harmonics all contain numbers found in the Fibonacci sequence.

Looking at the chart below, you can see that the first seven numbers of the Fibonacci Sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8) are related to key frequency ratios. When A = 432 the scale becomes parallel to Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Mean.

Though all this music numerology is interesting, what is valuable is the music frequency effect on physiology. There have been a few studies showing more of a physiological benefit of A-432 Hz compared to A-440 Hz. There has been research comparing the physiological effects of music tuned to 440 Hz Versus 432 Hz. The study was to identify differences in vital parameters and perceptions after listening to music at different frequencies, A-440 Hz versus A-432 Hz. It involved 33 participants with sessions of music listening on different days. Both sessions used the same music (movie soundtracks) but tuned to A-440 Hz on one day and A-432 Hz on the other. Each session lasted 20 minutes. Vital parameters (blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation), perceptions (physical and emotional sensations, for example fatigue and stress), levels of concentration during the listening session, and general satisfaction with the experience were measured.

The results indicated that A-432 Hz tuned music was associated with a slight decrease of mean (systolic and diastolic) blood pressure values (although not significant), a marked decrease in the mean of heart rate and a slight decrease of the mean respiratory rate values, compared to 440 Hz. The subjects were more focused when listening to the music and more generally satisfied after the sessions in which they listened to A-432 Hz tuned music. The researchers concluded, “The data suggests that A-432 Hz tuned music can decrease heart rate more than 440 Hz tuned music.”5

In another study entitled Influences of 432 Hz Music on the Perception of Anxiety during Endodontic Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial, researchers found “Direct contrasts between patients listening or not listening to music showed that all the measured vital signs decreased considering the overall period (during and after the canal therapy) in the group of patients listening to music. They concluded, “This study shows the effects of music therapy on vital values and on subjective perception of anxiety during endodontic therapy. Music and medicine always work together; the soothing effects of sounds and musical frequencies make this union an extraordinary tool of synergistic care. Music therapy is a valid nonpharmacologic adjuvant to anxiety perception in endodontic therapies.”6

Other studies have shown similar beneficial results of A-432 music.7

Accordingly, some music therapists claim that music tuned to A-432 Hz is easier to listen to, brighter, clearer, and contains more inherent dynamic range. As a result, music with this tuning need not be played at higher volumes and thus reduces the risk of hearing damage.

Music lovers and musicians have noticed that music tuned to A-432 Hz is not only more beautiful and harmonious to the ears, but it also induces a more inward experience that is felt inside the body at the spine and heart. Music tuned to A-440 Hz was felt as a more outward and mental experience and was felt at the side of the head which projected outwards. Audiophiles have also stated that A-432 Hz music seems to be non-local and can fill an entire room, whereas A-440 Hz can be perceived as directional or linear in sound propagation.

You be the judge:

It has been suggested by music scholar James Furia and others that A-432 be the standard. Other music therapists have also claimed that middle “A” should be 528 Hz based on Solfeggio Scale. The controversy over tuning still rages, with proponents of A-432 or C-256 as being more natural tunings than the current standard. There are numerous organizations advocating a universal switch to A-432 Hz, but that would involve upsetting worldwide standards, not to mention the construction and re-tuning of millions of musical instruments. However, music can be purchased that is based on A-432, which is not only pleasing to the ear but also physiologically beneficial.

Beyond the harmonics of using A-432 musically, the number 432 has some very interesting relationships to both time and distance.

For example:

  • 24 hours in a day

  • 12 hours in half a day

  • 720 minutes in half a day

  • 4320 seconds in half a day Also:

  • seconds in a minute = 60

  • minutes in an hour = 60

60 X 432 = 25,930 which is the approximate orbital precession of the equinox (Note: some sources have calculated it to be about 25,772 years; however, it is not a constant, and is expected to slowly increase over time)

Saturn's orbital precession of the Zodiac in Saturn years = 864

Twelve constellations through which the ecliptic passes form the Zodiac. The name is derived from the Greek, meaning "animal circle," and also is related to the word "zoo," coming from the fact that most of these constellations are named for animals, such as Leo, the Lion; Taurus, the Bull; and Cancer, the Crab, just to name a few.

432 X 2 = 864

(Interesting Fact: Saturn (a.k.a. Kronos) was worshipped as the god of time by ancient Greeks/Romans. there are also significant connections to 432 in every major religion, plus Buddhism, Hinduism, Norse mythology, etc.)

Approximate diameter of the sun = 864,000 miles

432 X 2 = 864

Approximate diameter of moon = 2,160 miles

432 ÷ 2 = 216

One last interesting example:

Approximate speed of light = 186,000 miles per second

432 X 432 = 186,624 (an error of about 0.3%)

(Note: most conventional sources attribute the first successful measurement of the speed of light to Olaus Roemer in 1676. His estimate was 140,000 miles per second, just slightly less accurate than the ancient Egyptians accidentally and with amazing coincidence coded into the pyramid.)

Sounds and words are much more than just a method of communication. They are tangible forces that have a direct effect on health and wellbeing. The study of quantum physics shows that the human body and the entire universe is made up of tiny pieces of vibrating matter, hinged together by gravitational and electromagnetic forces. Exposing the body and brain to certain musical frequencies can encourage healing from within and raise the frequency of the body to promote health, vitality and spiritual enhancement. There are lots of other ways you can maximize your exposure to beneficial vibrations. Music therapy is one of the best.

The following articles and books further discuss the Solfeggio tones or frequencies and their biological effects:

Boccagna, David L., ed. Musical terminology: a practical compendium in four languages. Pendragon Press, 1999.

Akimoto, Kaho, Ailing Hu, Takuji Yamaguchi, and Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Effect of 528 Hz Music on the Endocrine System and Autonomic Nervous System. Health 10, no. 09 (2018): 1159.

Hulse D. Specifications of A Fork in the Road: An Inspiring Journey of How Ancient Solfeggio Frequencies Are Empowering Personal and Planetary Transformation. Authorhouse USA. 2009. ISBN 978-1- 4389-5791-3. (Book online)

References

1. dos Reis Lestard, Nathalia, Raphael C. Valente, Anibal G. Lopes, and Márcia AM Capella. Direct effects of music in non-auditory cells in culture. Noise and Health 15, no. 66 (2013): 307.

2. Pereira, Contzen. Music enhances cognitive-related behaviour in snails (Achatinafulica). Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 2015b 3, no. 5 (2015): 379-386.

3. Shaobin, Gu, Ying Wu, Kewei Li, Shichang Li, Shengyun Ma, Qiannan Wang, and Rong Wang. A pilot study of the effect of audible sound on the growth of Escherichia coli. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 78, no. 2 (2010): 367-371.

4. Lestard, Nathalia R., and Marcia AM Capella. Exposure to music alters cell viability and cell motility of human nonauditory cells in culture. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2016 (2016).

5. Calamassi, Diletta, and Gian Paolo Pomponi. Music tuned to 440 Hz versus 432 Hz and the health effects: a double-blind cross-over pilot study. EXPLORE, Vol. 15, Issue 4, Jul–Aug 2019, pp. 283-290.

6. Di Nasso, Luca, Andrea Nizzardo, Riccardo Pace, Felicita Pierleoni, Gabriella Pagavino, and Valentina Giuliani. Influences of A-432 Hz music on the perception of anxiety during endodontic treatment: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Journal of endodontics 42, no. 9 (2016): 1338-1343.

7. Ricaurte Obregón, Carlos Raúl. Efecto de dos tipos de frecuencia de la música en la ansiedad en pacientes adultos, previo a tratamiento endodóntico. Bachelor's thesis, Quito: Universidad de las Américas, 2017., 2017.


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© 2017-2020 Dr. James Odell, ND, OMD, L.Ac. 

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