Josten Myburgh
Entry #3


The photo I’ve attached is from what I expect will be my second last of my (at least) daily walks around Lake Guy. This time (and never any other), the ground was carpeted with hundreds of these small caterpillars. As I leave, something else begins!

I planned the last week around a projected three days of brilliant weather. I tried to take best advantage of this, but wore myself out on the first day – Monday – the arduous hike to get to my ‘mountain studio’, followed by some overambitious late night recording. I did come away with a lot of beautiful field recordings and recordings of music, but had to spend most of the Tuesday resting. On Thursday, I enjoyed what might be my last early rise, getting up at 3am to listen to the bats near Mermaid Beach.

In week three I felt suddenly motivated to ‘play’ more: letting loose and working intuitively on the instrument rather than working in contexts delimited by concepts or precise approaches. I enjoyed improvising with the construction work across the dam, becoming fascinated with the reflections from splattering high tones off the surrounding mountains. And exploring playing from very far away from the microphones in my ‘mountain studio’ up the Possum Spur Track was fun: it takes the bright, nasal quality of the instrument and softens it in a shimmering blur that’s interesting to work with. Some of the recordings I’ve made have been nice enough, but I don’t know if I would share them with anyone – they don’t have the same epiphanic quality as what I found in the first weeks of the residency, perhaps owing to their exploratory, playful nature. The approach that I have ended up trying to commit to record that’s most interesting once again feels like it belongs once more into a very narrow conceptual space. It’s also difficult – I’m still not sure if I’ve managed the best recording of it I can yet.


I have been using a sustain pedal for my improvising for some time, mostly in the duo Land’s Air (you can hear it in the middle section of the last track off that duo’s self-titled album). I also played a few solos with it this year, using it in a similar way to how I’ve been using the reverb of the dam here – a means of sustaining frequencies so that I can play adjacent frequencies to elicit beating and difference tones. In mid-2024, I’ll be working on a solo work that makes use of three of them at once, in order to spatialise the beat frequencies.

I decided to start recording improvisations in the evening using the residency space’s outdoor speaker system to bring the pedal’s sounds out into the open. Given the similarity in attention to beat frequencies, I’ve been looking for material that works differently to the dam space and ‘belongs’ in the density of the environment outside the centre, most notably the rush of white noise from the nearby stream. After reviewing hours of recordings, what I’ve noticed is that static situations exploring phase relationships and subtle beating at the lowest volume possible are most interesting, not just because of the beauty of the sounds played and interacting so gently and ambiguously, but also because the beating ‘cuts’ the sound of the river: it makes pulsating rhythms in the undulating pink noise. Importantly, playing softly also helps me to hear the flow of what’s going on around me: the end-of-day calls of currawongs, wonga pigeons and wrens, the chirp of cicadas that starts as dusk properly sets in.


The B-CSC has been my first ever solo residency, and my first residency longer than just a few days. I’m so grateful to have been here: I’ve learnt a lot about my own process and about musicking in-and-as-place. During this time, I’ve also confirmed my second solo residency for mid-2024, working on that aforementioned solo work with multiple sustain pedals in the place that I live, Boorloo. This helped me think about how I want to use the rest of the residency here, and how I’d like to approach my own creative process in the future, in and out of focussed contexts like this.

I find it easy to be patient and take my time, which I have always felt is probably a good trait – but there is a certain occasion to seize the opportunity to work hard and intensely in a space like this that allows for it. I am wondering about how to better unlock that intense focus in myself, and likewise how to recognise and know when to rest. Both of these things still feel like elements of myself that I am struggling or fighting against, rather than fully in a flow with. By putting constraints on myself, such as these mountain climbs I’ve been doing to record in an isolated setting, I can access focus – the place and the effort required to reach the site brings a kind of momentousness, where getting to work feels both like the only possibility, and the right one. But just sitting on a computer editing recordings feels less easy to get immersed in, especially when, it being quite isolated up here, I often want to be using ‘sitting time’ to catch up with friends.

At the same time, I also want to get better at making time to ‘do nothing’. The day that had the most notable effect on my psychology and physiology was when I climbed up to my ‘mountain studio’ – a 2 hour hike all-up – and spent several hours sitting still, occasionally playing saxophone, but mostly just being there and paying attention. It’s here I had special encounters with birds, insects, trees and weather which, I think, impressed themselves more deeply than they have at other times. I like to think that listening while walking, and listening while-and-through playing, can give me access to a kind of immersion in the world, but I find actually completely stopping allows one to sense relations to other things in a much more intense way. I remember a time in South Africa where a group of us sat listening in the savanna for 3 hours, and more than an hour of that was spent in very clear relation with a herd of zebra. I’ll never forget this moment – and yet I never go and sit by the river for 3 hours where I live, nor have I exactly done this here, with the impetus to make work and respond to the site making me prioritise ‘making stuff’.


It was the third week of dream journaling in Bogong where my dreams and the forest got perceivably closer together. I dreamt about insects and birds, who were various people in my life and communicated in various ways, through telepathy or by moving objects around. I expect it was to do with the aforementioned focus and enmeshment achieved by sitting still on the mountain. It might also be to do with the elation that this experience brings me: the relief from anxiety and the pure bliss of it emptying out the bothers that would bring a ruminative quality to dreams. It could also be to do with the night walks I’ve been doing – being in the forest right before sleep meaning that its easier for traces of that world to manifest in dreams. I hope I continue to practice dream journaling when I get home, and understand it more!

And that’s that. Thanks to Madelynne, this Country, and all who take and have taken care of it for generations.