My music makes you dance and gives you spirit to take a chance,
And I wrote some rock ‘n roll, so you can move,
Music fills your heart, well that’s a real fine place to start,
It’s from me, it’s for you,
It’s a worldwide symphony,
I am music and I write the songs.
Bruce Johnston wrote the above lyrics for the tune “I Write the Songs,” which became a number 1 hit in America for Barry Manilow in 1976.
Although Johnston’s lyrics are referring to God and not an individual person, the concept of writing multiple musical songs for the world to hear reminds me of composer David Hollandsworth.
Over the past 10 years, David Hollandsworth has written hundreds of short, instrumental songs and melodies that have been used in countless TV shows, movies and commercials. The Roanoke, Virginia resident has also written many full-length instrumental tunes, some which have been heard by millions of listeners, via SoundCloud, YouTube and other online music platforms.
More than likely, most have never thought about the instrumental music playing while watching reality shows, movies on Netflix or even viewing commercials. Quite frankly, this is probably a topic that many have never considered prior to reading this message about Hollandsworth and his prolific career.
Some may be wondering how Hollandsworth got started on a career path of writing musical tunes. I had the opportunity to interview David earlier this month to find out how his musical past during childhood and as a young adult helped influence his career.
The seeds of Hollandsworth’s musical talent began during his high school years in southern California. Jethro Tull was a favorite band of David’s, and he asked his mother Dot Hollandsworth to buy him a flute. His mom thought a flute was too expensive so she bought him a cheap classical guitar instead of David’s desired woodwind instrument.
After Hollandsworth received his guitar, he took lessons for around a year. As a young adult, David started playing guitar during his church’s morning worship services, where his father Jimmy Hollandsworth was the pastor
During this same time period, Hollandsworth started listening to the “Jesus Music” scene in Southern California, which was being developed by the Calvary Chapel fellowship in Costa Mesa. David’s favorite artists at Calvary Chapel both played the piano: Chuck Girard, who played in the band Love Song, and singer-songwriter Erick Nelson.
With the influence of Girard and Nelson’s music, Hollandsworth decided he wanted to play the piano. Since David could not read music, he taught himself how to play the piano by ear.
In 1977, Jimmy Hollandsworth moved his family to Roanoke, Virginia and founded a new church. David and his mother became the worship leaders at the new Church of the Living Way.
Eventually David’s mom stepped away from playing piano and David became the sole worship leader for his father’s church. Piano became the instrument of choice for Hollandsworth with these new duties.
For the next 20 years, Hollandsworth was the worship leader for the same church: first called Church of the Living Way and then renamed Grace Covenant Church in 1990. Here in 2019, David is still involved with music ministry. Hollandsworth continues to play keyboard in the worship band, most Sunday mornings, at the church where he now attends.
When the Internet grew in popularity during the mid 90’s, Hollandsworth took his love and knowledge of Contemporary Christian Music from his teenage years and made a website called “One-Way.org: A Decade of Jesus Music 1969-1979.”
Although this website may seem antiquated by today’s standards, Hollandsworth’s website was one of the first to document the history of “Jesus Music” on the Internet. Below is a quote from David about the beginnings of his creation:
“The idea for this site started as a wild thought back in 1995. This thing called the World Wide Web was the new buzzword all over the world. As I surfed around I realized that there wasn’t much to be found about the Jesus movement, its history and music. Then and there, I decided that I would put together a site dedicated to this music and the artists who created it. Call it a historical, pictorial, musical archive of a very special time in Christian history.”
While Hollandsworth doesn’t currently maintain or update the “Jesus Music” website he created, it is still available for viewing on the Internet.
During the mid 2000’s, David slowly exchanged his “Jesus Music” historian activities for composing instrumental music tracks. This undertaking was not an overnight venture for Hollandsworth, as he slowly developed his skills and learned how to record music on a professional level.
Ten years ago, Hollandsworth started the process of composing music on a computer, utilizing the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). With the MIDI technology, David used a keyboard to create multi-track files.
Since that time, David has created hundreds of music tracks. Some songs are full-length songs, lasting 3 minutes or longer, while “production” tunes that Hollandsworth creates are shorter segments of music, generally lasting less than two minutes in duration.
In my interview with David, I asked him to classify the type of music he composes and he replied, “I would classify most of the music I have out there for the public as new age, neo-classical and ambient. I also have some albums of orchestral and vocal/choir music.”
Hollandsworth went on to explain to me how TV producers and commercial writers utilize his instrumental music. “Reality TV uses a lot of different genres of music these days. If you listen to a show, you will hear dozens of short cues used throughout a program. The most commonly used are quirky, “dramedy” shows with a hip hop/urban feel and tension music. Tension music is big with all the crime, CSI, investigative type shows on the air.”
David continued, “Other types of music used a lot in commercials and ads are what they call positive, uplifting, or corporate music. Often these have a pop feel to them or use a piano motif to convey what they want to get across. I’ve even done some creepy music for horror/alien type use.”
“A lot of times I will hear something on TV that will spark an idea for a composition. I have dozens of unfinished projects that I will often go back to years later and finish,” Hollandsworth said.
Below are various links for David Hollandswoth’s music:
“Discovery” album was voted Best Ambient album 2015 by One World Music Radio. https://music.apple.com/us/album/discovery/1065067459
The song “Flow” has been streamed over million times on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/davidhollandsworth/flow
The official Webpage of David Hollandsworth music: http://davidhollandsworth.com/
The IMDB link: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8392380/
Before ending my conversation with David, I was curious to find out what artists and genres of music that he listens to on a regular basis. Hollandsworth quickly stated, “Anything with piano is my favorite.”
Core artists that Hollandsworth plays frequently include: Windham Hill artists; pianists/keyboardists Yanni, George Winston & David Lanz; synthesizer artists Vangelis & Tangerine Dream; Progressive rock bands Emerson Lake & Palmer, Pink Floyd, Traffic & Yes; plus jazz fusion artists Pat Metheny and Spyro Gyra.
David’s music is available on multiple outlets, throughout a variety of sources on the Internet: streaming platforms such as Soundcloud, Pandora, Spotify, Apple and Amazon. His music is also available for purchase on his official website and various other online media platforms.
As I think about the prolific musical scores of Hollandsworth, I am amazed by how this man has written hundreds of tunes over the years but can’t read music. (Paul McCartney is also a person who can’t read music but it hasn’t hurt his career). Obviously, the fact the David doesn’t know how to read music hasn’t stopped him from creating professional music either.
The other thing that I admire about David is his tenacity to start a new career writing and composing music later in his life. His perseverance to switch careers and perform in an area in which he is gifted is extremely encouraging to me.
When all is said and done, instrumentalist David Hollandsworth is truly a musical maestro.
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