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The mirrors of laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors hang from multi-stage suspensions. These support the optics against gravity while isolating them from external vibration. Thermal noise must be kept small so mechanical loss must be minimized and the resulting structure has high-Q resonances rigid-body modes, typically in the frequency range between about 0.3 Hz and 20 Hz. Operation of the interferometer requires these resonances to be damped. Active damping provides the design flexibility required to achieve rapid settling with low noise. In practice there is a compromise between sensor performance, and hence cost and complexity, and sophistication of the control algorithm. We introduce a novel approach which combines the new technique of modal damping with methods developed from those applied in GEO 600. This approach is predicted to meet the goals for damping and for noise performance set by the Advanced LIGO project.