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Who still has a piano? #2787347
12/03/18 12:31 PM
12/03/18 12:31 PM
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Gombessa Offline OP
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Just noticed this come across my news feed (probably not news to a lot of folks here): https://parade.com/720434/marilynvossavant/who-still-owns-a-piano/

Quote
Q: Our population has grown, but it seems fewer households have pianos now. Have sales increased or decreased?

A: They have been decreasing for decades. In 1900, when Americans numbered about 76 million, some 171,000 pianos were sold, so you would find one in every 178 homes (figuring 2.5 people per household). Sales mushroomed by 1909, and one of every 99 households boasted a piano. That was the height of piano popularity. The year 1978 saw the last peak, when a population of 223 million bought 282,000 of the instruments, with one in every 316 homes. It’s been downhill ever since. By 2015, only one of every 3,788 families owned a piano.


As a trend, pianos are on the decline. But are there any studies that include digital pianos (and perhaps to a lesser extent, synths/keyboards)? From what I've seen, almost all younger beginning pianists are on digitals nowadays (including a lot of us not-so-young pianists with families and neighbors to think about). Is the decline around piano as a musical/art form, or is it just the expense/size/hassle of the acoustic piano?


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787364
12/03/18 01:15 PM
12/03/18 01:15 PM
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Pennsylvania
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I have a piano, Wurli upright that mother & father scrimped & saved to purchase new for $2000 in the 60’s .... think about what the value of $2k was then compared to today .... like most paper-backed currencies, the USD is, literally, less than toilet paper ..... can you even buy a decent roll for $ 1 ?

In my estimation, DPs today are not unlike Wurli uprights of the middle 1900s. They helped bring the experience of pianos into the households of commoners and of course many piano purists looked down their noses at such low-rent piano owners. Be this as it may, it was that Wurli upright in the dining room that sparked my initial interestin learning to play 😊


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: drewr] #2787378
12/03/18 01:43 PM
12/03/18 01:43 PM
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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Oddly enough ... a roll of toilet paper is one of the few things you can still buy for under a dollar. smile
Originally Posted by drewr
I have a piano, Wurli upright that mother & father scrimped & saved to purchase new for $2000 in the 60’s .... think about what the value of $2k was then compared to today .... like most paper-backed currencies, the USD is, literally, less than toilet paper ..... can you even buy a decent roll for $ 1 ?

I wonder where these numbers come from?
Quote
They have been decreasing for decades. In 1900, when Americans numbered about 76 million, some 171,000 pianos were sold, so you would find one in every 178 homes (figuring 2.5 people per household). Sales mushroomed by 1909, and one of every 99 households boasted a piano. That was the height of piano popularity. The year 1978 saw the last peak, when a population of 223 million bought 282,000 of the instruments, with one in every 316 homes. It’s been downhill ever since. By 2015, only one of every 3,788 families owned a piano.
Can we presume that they're speaking only about acoustic pianos? If digital pianos were included what would be the per-household count?

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: MacMacMac] #2787393
12/03/18 02:15 PM
12/03/18 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Can we presume that they're speaking only about acoustic pianos? If digital pianos were included what would be the per-household count?


Yeah, that was my question in the OP. Assuming we're only talking about APs, how do DPs impact these numbers? It could very well be that piano is holding steady, or perhaps even thriving, because the stats aren't considering that most students/players have moved to DPs.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: MacMacMac] #2787407
12/03/18 03:16 PM
12/03/18 03:16 PM
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Pennsylvania
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Oddly enough ... a roll of toilet paper is one of the few things you can still buy for under a dollar. smile ......Can we presume that they're speaking only about acoustic pianos? If digital pianos were included what would be the per-household count?



If you can find a good, soft 2-ply roll for under a $1 you are doing well 😉

Agreed, would be interesting what the numbers really are and how derived and by whom.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787472
12/03/18 06:18 PM
12/03/18 06:18 PM
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Vught, The Netherlands
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I traded in my Yamaha C3 around 20 years ago after learning about the GranTouch, the first hybrid offered by Yamaha.

The benefits of a hybrid were too much for me to dismiss. I would have my C3 tuned up to six times a year. Switching to a hybrid seemed like a good decision especially for home, church, restaurant, and theater use.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: drewr] #2787481
12/03/18 06:44 PM
12/03/18 06:44 PM
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Sofia, Bulgaria
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Originally Posted by drewr
I have a piano, Wurli upright that mother & father scrimped & saved to purchase new for $2000 in the 60’s ....

My grandparents also bought my moms upright in the 60’s and they literally starved for an year to afford to do so since it costed the entire yearly salary of my grandma. And that’s considering my mom was determined to become a medical doctor, so music was just for hobby. I still struggle to understand what kind of values these people had in these days shocked Giving their last money (in a poor communist bloc country during the 60s) to purchase a piano for their daughter who isn’t studying piano... Can you imagine that now? Where the heck is the world going at now? frown

Last edited by CyberGene; 12/03/18 06:45 PM.

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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787483
12/03/18 06:58 PM
12/03/18 06:58 PM
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Rocky Mountains, USA
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To answer the OP's topic, I have two grand pianos, a digital console (Kawai CA78) and a portable digital (Yamaha P515).
Mostly I play the AP's. Digitals are good if the AP's aren't available for whatever reason. I think digitals don't easily replace acoustic pianos, unless you are happy listening to headphones. But it's better than no piano! A decade from now, who knows?

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787485
12/03/18 07:05 PM
12/03/18 07:05 PM
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Rocky Mountains, USA
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p.s. CyberGene, I'm in awe of your grandparents. Does that strength of character even exist anymore, I don't know but I hope so!

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787516
12/03/18 08:40 PM
12/03/18 08:40 PM
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I agree with the OP that not including at least some level of DP's paints an unrealistic view of the situation with pianos. Just like spinets, DP's lowered the price of admission and are part of the picture. I don't give articles like this much mind because the piano as a hobby has a huge infrasturcture and will go on for a long time.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787573
12/03/18 11:48 PM
12/03/18 11:48 PM
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I have an acoustic piano, a digital and some synths. Curiously, I find that I almost always use the acoustic for practice, but if I am just playing for pleasure, I'm more likely to be on the digital keyboards.

The question of the decline in piano purchases comes up from time to time. The data show that there was a very drastic drop in upright piano sales as radio and the phonograph brought music to households. Curiously, grand piano sales remain relatively stable with a small increase over time. Digital piano sales are increasing year by year, but they don't come close to replacing the drop in upright sales.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787578
12/04/18 12:10 AM
12/04/18 12:10 AM
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I have both. We always had an old upright piano at home, but I moved to digital in the '90s. I only got my own acoustic a few years ago.

Up until the '80s, if you wanted to learn the piano you had to buy an acoustic, and spend a lot of money in the process. That probably accounted for most new acoustic sales. With the dawn of the digital, that was no longer the case. Second hand acoustics weren't so ridiculously cheap then either, and nobody counts the cases where someone picks up a piano for next to nothing.

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787604
12/04/18 03:31 AM
12/04/18 03:31 AM
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The tradition that every family should have a piano in the living room was once fashionable (and perhaps even a status symbol) but today it's a thing of the past. There used to be all kind of acoustic piano stores in my town but they are all gone now. Today's musical activities include 'two turntables and a mixer' or to vote for your favorite candidate in The Voice.

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Alex C] #2787634
12/04/18 06:24 AM
12/04/18 06:24 AM
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The tradition that every family should have a piano in the living room was once fashionable (and perhaps even a status symbol) but today it's a thing of the past. There used to be all kind of acoustic piano stores in my town but they are all gone now

I'm guessing that tradition started before there were radios and televisions.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787675
12/04/18 09:25 AM
12/04/18 09:25 AM
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Pennsylvania
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Some more sales numbers for chewing on this side of the Atlantic. Curiously they stop right around the time electronic models were (probably) gaining momentum ... I guess that a newer tradition is that one must pay for such numbers these days.....there's potential money in this kind of numbers.

https://www.bluebookofpianos.com/uspiano.htm

Last edited by drewr; 12/04/18 09:32 AM.

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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787700
12/04/18 10:06 AM
12/04/18 10:06 AM
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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I've seen the bluebook numbers before.
The most recent figures are for year 2007, and for digital pianos the number is 8,666.
That seems rather low to me. Very low.

Where do they get their information? They don't say.

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Alex C] #2787703
12/04/18 10:41 AM
12/04/18 10:41 AM
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Melbourne, Australia
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Originally Posted by Alex C
The tradition that every family should have a piano in the living room was once fashionable (and perhaps even a status symbol) but today it's a thing of the past. There used to be all kind of acoustic piano stores in my town but they are all gone now. Today's musical activities include 'two turntables and a mixer' or to vote for your favorite candidate in The Voice.

It's funny you should say that today of all days because we literally just moved in a Steinway upright that belonged to my mother into our lounge room! Not only that, but we practically never watch our television anymore. It might be rare, but still not entirely a thing of the past. laugh

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: ando] #2787705
12/04/18 10:46 AM
12/04/18 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ando
Not only that, but we practically never watch our television anymore. It might be rare, but still not entirely a thing of the past. laugh

My wall-mounted large screen TV is now a computer monitor. Works great too. Maybe if I upgrade to 4K at some point, I'll just forgo the TV tuner altogether.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787759
12/04/18 01:38 PM
12/04/18 01:38 PM
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I do.
Have been trying to sell my baby grand for last 3 months, but it's still in the room smile


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: CyberGene] #2787925
12/05/18 01:05 AM
12/05/18 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Originally Posted by drewr
I have a piano, Wurli upright that mother & father scrimped & saved to purchase new for $2000 in the 60’s ....

in a poor communist bloc country during the 60s

ooooh, memories. I was born in one of them communist countries in 70's.
Yep pianos were incredibly expensive when compared to the pretend salary our parents and grandparents got. I always entertain my kids telling them exchange rates what cost what at that time. I remember when beer was what would be 10 cents US. I remember getting equivalent of 4 cents a day for my school snack (was a pouch of milk and a bun). If I was cheeky I would get only a milk ant that would save me 2 cents and then go to groceries after school to buy some candy.
I remember my mother sent me to buy matches and she gave me equivalent of 0.1 cent, yep 0.001 USD. Oh those were the good times.
A piano would be something like $400-$500 bucks and that would literally be equivalent of a year worth of salary. And it would be probably some russian upright made in some gulag by prisoners and with amazing ability to go out of tune 2 minutes after it was tuned.
On the other side, to became a good piano player in communist block was a miracle. Most of the teachers were simply sadistic frustrated bitches who had their dreams crushed and they would take it on the kids making piano playing the least enjoyable they could. It produced quite army of kids that hated the instrument with a passion and begged their parents to cancel their lessons. But there were some good teachers, like my aunt, just very few sadly.

Last edited by oscar1; 12/05/18 01:15 AM.

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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: oscar1] #2787966
12/05/18 06:33 AM
12/05/18 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by oscar1
On the other side, to became a good piano player in communist block was a miracle. Most of the teachers were simply sadistic frustrated bitches who had their dreams crushed and they would take it on the kids making piano playing the least enjoyable they could. It produced quite army of kids that hated the instrument with a passion and begged their parents to cancel their lessons. But there were some good teachers, like my aunt, just very few sadly.

My wife who was in music school in Moscow and then East Berlin tells me of her teacher who would try to slam the fallboard on her fingers. She got very good at yanking her hands away from the keyboard when she would make a mistake to avoid them getting crushed. She was 6yo at the time.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787974
12/05/18 07:03 AM
12/05/18 07:03 AM
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Trondheim; Norway
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Well, I have two acoustic pianos.

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2787985
12/05/18 07:51 AM
12/05/18 07:51 AM
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Yeah well, In the 1900s we didn't have digital pianos and all of their variants; console, slim cabinet, slab home and slab stage. Neither did we have hybrid pianos, midi controllers nor keyboards. The art of piano playing is a live and well and as popular as ever. Acoustic pianos not so much, primarily because they're very heavy and impractical. People are also living in smaller spaces and more are renting. So having a large/heavy instrument within the home is not as practical as it used to be.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2788015
12/05/18 09:49 AM
12/05/18 09:49 AM
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In the US people are NOT living in smaller spaces. The average home size in the US has increased radically. Around 400 square feet for a family was typically in US cities a century ago. Today single-occupant apartments are often twice that size, and single-family homes are mostly larger than 1500 square feet, and often 2x or 3x that size.

And digital pianos save only a small amount of space. Height doesn't really matter. Width doesn't matter much ... a digital slab might be 55" wide, while the biggest upright is only 5 or 6 inches wider. The only real difference is the depth. Around 12" for a slab, 18" to 24" for a digital console, and mid- or high-20's for an acoustic upright.

So I don't think space is the reason for the decline in piano uptake.

The big difference is price, both that of the piano and that of upkeep.

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2788027
12/05/18 10:30 AM
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@MacMacMac I wholeheartedly agree. Cost of buying and maintaining an acoustic piano are the major reasons why many prefer digitals. Though weight, dimensions & portability are also valid reasons. But are digital pianos adequate enough to replace acoustic pianos in terms of sound and feel? I think the mid to higher end models are indeed adequate enough.


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Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2788344
12/06/18 10:06 AM
12/06/18 10:06 AM
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I have an acoustic. I just bought a new grand.

Up until this point I have been using a digital. Digital sales must be going crazy if the acoustic sales are down. They start at a significantly lower price point. I got the Yamaha DGX-660 for $1000 and it has all of the bells and whistles.

I got this because of the price point and the price point alone. I had the space for a grand, but I didn't want to spend so much money or time and effort on an acoustic just to learn that I didn't want to continue with learning the instrument. That would entail even more money and work to get rid of it.

It is the perfect middle ground for new students. Realistically enough represented action and sound, at a practical price. Even as students progress, their budget may not and they can never afford to move to an acoustic, but that is okay because a digital is close enough. Some of the higher end digitals even have a great aesthetic appeal leaving no reason to ever move to an acoustic.

Q

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: halherta] #2788459
12/06/18 04:19 PM
12/06/18 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by halherta
@MacMacMac I wholeheartedly agree. Cost of buying and maintaining an acoustic piano are the major reasons why many prefer digitals. Though weight, dimensions & portability are also valid reasons.

I know that in Canada and USA, big houses and lots of space are the norm.

But across the pond, it's not just space: it's living in less-than-fully-soundproof apartments. That is, neighbours. Elderly retired people are the ones owning houses now (some still with their pianos.....); others are living in apartments or semi-detached houses (i.e. with just a wall separating one house from another).

That is the only reason why I can't have an acoustic in my apartment (flat). I have enough space, and cost isn't an issue, but I'm surrounded by neighbors. The only time I can play my piano is when I'm not at work - which is also the time when my neighbors are home.

When I was a student, I had to use the pianos in the practice rooms in the high school (where I was a boarder), and after that, in the Music Department of the university. I used to rush there after school or lectures to try to get the room with my favourite piano, before other students got there.

It would make no sense to buy a piano if I couldn't even play it properly (i.e. with the right dynamics, not at a constant pianissimo) at any decent time, let alone at the time of my choosing, which was why I went for a digital all those years ago.

Now I'm wondering how much I've also saved in maintenance & tuning costs etc (compared to an acoustic) over the eight years I've had it. I've not spent a penny on my digital since I bought it, and it still looks and plays like new.

OK, I did appropriate an old bedsheet to use as a drape over it, to protect it from dust when I'm not playing it........... grin




Quote
But are digital pianos adequate enough to replace acoustic pianos in terms of sound and feel? I think the mid to higher end models are indeed adequate enough.

Not once have I felt my digital lacking in any way - at least, when I'm playing it. (Though I still enjoy playing the acoustic grands in the showrooms whenever I'm downtown). OK, it doesn't look anything like a real piano, but looks aren't everything, as a sage would say......

When I was a student and using the best practice pianos whenever I could, there were lots of times when I felt the action wasn't totally even, or some notes were slightly out of tune (there were some heavy hitters among the students.......including me wink ) - even though all the pianos were tuned every six months -, or there was an annoying buzzing sound from inside the piano that I couldn't get rid of.

No longer do I have to put up with that thumb.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2788485
12/06/18 06:11 PM
12/06/18 06:11 PM
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You make a lot of good points about the advantages of digital, bennevis, I'm sure it strikes a chord with a lot of the readers of this forum.

However, I have to admit that not a day goes by that I don't entertain the thought of springing for an acoustic grand (I probably will eventually, but it'll be a few years out). As nice as my digitals are, there's something about playing the real thing that just gets my heart going every time. One of these days I'll be fortunate enough to be in the one of ~3000+ households.


Yamaha P-85, P-105, CP50 || Kawai NV-10, MP11
Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2788527
12/06/18 09:05 PM
12/06/18 09:05 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 86
R
redfish1901 Offline
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redfish1901  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 86
Originally Posted by Gombessa
As nice as my digitals are, there's something about playing the real thing that just gets my heart going every time.


+1

Re: Who still has a piano? [Re: Gombessa] #2788529
12/06/18 09:19 PM
12/06/18 09:19 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 7,006
Raleigh, North Carolina
MacMacMac Offline
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MacMacMac  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 7,006
Raleigh, North Carolina
Yes, a digital piano will never ever be the equal of an acoustic.
Originally Posted by Gombessa
... there's something about playing the real thing that just gets my heart going every time.

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