PLAGUE DIARY

by Ben Goldberg

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I'm like a parrot in the breeze watch me if you please thinking like a parrot in my heart I'm like a parrot in the trees Eating all the leaves  because I'm Sad about the time we are apart
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about

A STATEMENT FROM BEN GOLDBERG:
Like many musicians, when the coronavirus hit in March I lost all my work in a matter of days. I had a complicated schedule for March and April, filled with tours, festivals, and local concerts, and it all evaporated very fast. Along with losing all my paying work, I was left with the question, what about the work of art? Something tells me art will be fine, even though humans are in trouble at the moment. But right now art is precluded from its important work of gathering us together. So musicians are in a weird situation. In the initial shock my thought was, I don't know what to do but I can record music at home. So on March 19 2020 I began recording a new song every day and posting them to this album. The philosophy is "use what you've got" (is there ever another option?) -- for me that means clarinets, a synthesizer I can't figure out, and rudimentary recording ability. Because it's a diary I am trying to use the recording process as a sketchbook, and an opportunity to mess around. ("Don't forget to mess around." -- Steve Lacy)

UPDATE AUGUST 27, 2020
I recently posted the 130th song on PLAGUE DIARY. When the quarantine began, I had no idea we would be locked down long enough for me to record more than 100 songs, so I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the “work of art.”

Steve Lacy once told Frederic Rzewski “The difference between composition and improvisation is that in composition you have all the time you want to think about what to say in 15 seconds, while in improvisation you have only 15 seconds." (Lacy’s statement took him 15 seconds.) By that measure, PLAGUE DIARY operates in the realm of 7.5 seconds. It’s not one-take improvisation (although some of it is), but the goal of making up and recording a song in a day imposes some real limits.

Working on PLAGUE DIARY every day, I feel like I’m getting better at using the recording process as a sketchpad, capturing and refining ideas and contemplating what ingredients are needed in a song. The question arises again and again, what do you put into a song, what do we put into art? The answer, as I see it now, is “everything you know.” Not everything you can do, but everything you know of balance, justice, beauty, struggle, groove, liberation. The values are contained in the work, in hopes that they can be of use to the receptive listener.

credits

released March 21, 2020

Ben Goldberg - Bb Clarinet, Eb Albert System Clarinet, Contra Alto Clarinet, Roland JX-03 Synthesizer, Korg MS-20 Synthesizer, Empress Tape Delay Pedal, Memory Boy Analog Delay.

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Ben Goldberg / BAG Production Records Berkeley, California

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