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Elijah Daniel Smith

Stagnation Blues

version for string quartet

(2024)
Duration6'
PublisherPSNY

Program Note

Growing up playing electric guitar in Chicago, the Blues were my natural first musical stop. As I got older and fell in love with other genres and traditions, Blues fell by the wayside, at least until a few years ago. During the long overdue reckoning with America’s racist history following George Floyd’s murder, I decided to dig a little deeper into my own family’s history and lineage.

Blues originated in the early 1900s in the Mississippi Delta, and it eventually made its way north to Chicago (and I guess St. Louis too) during the great migration. All of my grandparents passed away before I was born, but my dad’s parents were born in the heart of the Delta, and both came to Chicago during the Migration. It was the realization that my musical roots in the Blues were more than just a geographic circumstance, but a cultural and hereditary tradition that goes deeper than I had previously realized. This piece explores the way in which Blues has subtly and subconsciously influenced my compositional voice while also experimenting with the sound of iconic blues riffs and licks.

– Elijah Daniel Smith