Creativity and Covid-19: How One California Musician Copes

Although he lost thousands of dollars worth of jobs when the Covid-19: pandemic forced the cancellation of multiple outside gigs, Berkeley, Calif.-clarinettist Ben Goldberg has enhanced his creativity by composing, he tells San Francisco Classical Voice’s Andrew Gilbert. More than that, he’s writing a new tune every day and posting his playing of each on Bandcamp. The music, which he posts under the general title of Plague Diary, has evolved as well. Rather than just performing on Bb clarinet, he now also uses an effects pedal, keyboards, loops and lower-register clarinets. “I’d never really recorded myself before so this is new to me,” he admits. The process allows him to use ideas he’s had in notebooks but never completed, or showcase tunes he’s already recorded with the likes of pianist Myra Melford, cornetist Ron Miles and drummer Ches Smith. Since Mid-May the course on improvisation at UC Berkeley he was also teaching online was wound up due to a state-wide shelter in place order, so the Plague Diaries not only give him focus and deadlines, but allow him to try composing in a new way rather than note by note and chord by chord.