Shutdown Produces Two Very Different Musical Projects

Jun 3, 2020

Dale Jansen's plumbing chimes, in his backyard in Texas Corners.
Credit Courtesy photo / Dale Jansen

We’ve been asking for your stories of life during the pandemic as told through sound. In part two of the series, a listener in Mattawan has just finished an album whose name reflects the times. And we hear from a Texas Corners man who had to make something with the sounds drifting through his window.


“That’s probably what plumbing parts would sound like”

Dale Jansen is the Director of Database Administration at Western Michigan University. Since March, he’s been working from his home in Texas Corners because of the pandemic. Jansen says on windy days, he constantly hears the chimes on his front porch - one higher-pitched set, one that’s lower and mellower.

But those aren’t all of Jansen’s chimes. In the back he has a set made of bamboo. With the window open, he can hear those in his home office too.

“Then I thought, well, geez, I’ve got that nice chime – well, not so nice, but a really rough looking chime that I built about 30 years ago, sitting away in the backyard,” Jansen said.

“I built that one from old spare plumbing parts,” he adds, describing the sound as “clanky” and “out of tune.”

“You’d think well, that’s probably what plumbing parts would sound like.”

Jansen says he’s a “recording buff” who likes to capture everything from nature to industrial sounds. He brought the chimes inside, recorded them on separate tracks and mixed them together. First as a trio, then a quartet.

“It really was just that I was hearing these a lot and they also became sort of like a sound companion,” Jansen said.

You can hear both chime arrangements at his website.

The Distant Social Club

In Mattawan, musician John Cooperider has just finished an album that probably wouldn’t exist if not for the pandemic. Not that he wasn’t already writing songs this year. Cooperider and his brother Rob, who lives in Ohio, were hard at work in the winter.

“My brother and I both participate in something called February Album Writing Month, which is an online music challenge across the globe where you try to write 14 songs in 28 days,” he explained.

Cooperider says even though he loves writing music, he often stops for the rest of the year because “summer happens and life happens.”

The cover for the album that John and Rob Cooperider and Helen Robertson plan to release this month on Bandcamp.
Credit Courtesy photo / John Cooperider

But when things started to shut down in March, John and Rob decided to keep going. Their friend Helen Robertson joined the project from England.

Cooperider says he and Rob write the music piecemeal and share files back and forth, and then Helen writes lyrics and records vocal tracks.

When he writes his part, “I don’t have any idea what the end result is going to sound like,” Cooperider said.

The band wanted its name and album title to relate to the shutdown. Eventually they settled on Distant Social Club.

“Socially distancing has been something new for all of us, obviously,” Cooperider said. The name fits a band whose members are in two states and two countries.

Share your stories of the pandemic, as told through a sound.