CU college of music student modernizes classical music
Guitar, bass, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano and glockenspiel are all instruments that 21-year-old Ben Fausch plays. But one instrument reigns supreme: the tuba.
Fausch, a junior music major with a focus on tuba, has also been taking the appropriate steps in getting his music out there and showing the public what tuba’s all about.
“People aren’t exposed to it that much in modern-day society,” Fausch said about the tuba. “The idea of it is kind of pretentious.”
By creating new techniques such as tuba beat-boxing, Fausch breaks the classical music mold that the instrument is often cast in. He mixes the form of beat-boxing with the tuba, by playing and beat-boxing at the same time.
“It’s avant-garde tuba playing,” Fausch said. “It’s an extremely new technique.”
Fausch classifies this form of music as being closer to slap bass playing. He uses this technique while playing with his band, The Gadabout Orchestra. The Gadabout Orchestra accompanies another group of performers called the Folderol Follies, who put on a show with burlesque dancers and flying trapeze artists.
Fausch got involved with the Gadabout Orchestra when the creator of the orchestra, Ukulele Loki, also known as Aaron Johnson, put in a call to CU’s School of Music for a tuba player.
“A college is a gold mine for people who know their stuff,” Fausch said about using college students as a resource.
Loki put up signs in search of musicians that read: “Tuba and clarinet players needed for immediate recording project, sideshow, circus and film – fame awaits you.”
The band plays a type of music described as pseudo-Dixieland mixed with indie rock. There’s an element of vaudeville to the act with its ’20s and ’30s Buster Keaton vibe.
“I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t know what,” Fausch said.
The tubist has been a part of the Gadabout Orchestra for more than a year.
“Of all of the avant-garde experimental beat-boxing tuba players in Colorado, he’s easily in the top 11,” Loki said about Fausch.
Besides working with the Gadabout Orchestra, Fausch is also working on his own projects. He plays at various open mic nights with a new group called Zombie Pelican and is teaming up with another tubist to play Stevie Wonder covers.
“He’s extremely versatile,” Loki said. “He can write music the way you and I can write English sentences.”
Fausch is keeping busy by seeking grant money for a new project he conceived. He wants to show students and younger children that there is something else they can do with their instruments besides play classical music.
“I have a general dissatisfaction with the separation between academic art and popular art,” Fausch said. “It’s the separation between institutions and everyone else.”
For the project, Fausch has written music for tuba, bassoon, flute and cello players, and also uses electronic elements in his music. His goal is to visit schools and perform these pieces while showing students that it’s possible to mix the music they’re listening to on their iPods with the classical techniques they’re learning in class.
Fausch decided he will take his project to schools regardless of whether he gets the funding for it.
“I want kids to be able to take action,” Fausch said.
Fausch isn’t quite sure what he plans on doing after he graduates, but he knows it will involve music.
“I just want to play music all the time.” he said. “I love every single form of it.”
He plans on being in an orchestra and a funk band, being a teacher and being a rock star.
When asked about being a tuba rock star, he simply said: “It can happen.”
Ben Fausch will be performing with the Gadabout Orchestra and the Folderol Follies Feb. 20 at the Fox Theatre.