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SOUNDBREAKING: The Human Instrument

Airs Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Adele is one of more than 150 artists featured in the SOUNDBREAKING series ai...

Credit: © Courtesy of Sony Music Archives

Above: Adele is one of more than 150 artists featured in the SOUNDBREAKING series airing on PBS in November 2016.

The Series Features Over 150 Artists

SOUNDBREAKING: STORIES FROM THE CUTTING EDGE OF RECORDED MUSIC is an eight-episode PBS series that explores the extraordinary impact of recorded music on the modern world.

The series was the last project produced by legendary music producer Sir George Martin, who passed away on March 8, 2016.

It combines unprecedented access to some of the most celebrated artists, producers and innovators from across the music spectrum, with rare archival studio footage and an extensive soundtrack, to deliver one of the most wide-ranging series on the art of music recording.

Charting a century’s worth of innovation and experimentation in the creation of music, SOUNDBREAKING offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of new sounds.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Romy Suskin Photography

Linda Perry reaching over mixing board during Christina Aguilera session in studio, 2006. Linda Perry Is one of more than 150 producers and artists featured in SOUNDBREAKING.

From the invention of the microphone to the Moog synthesizer, from the phonograph to digital streaming, the series moves between past and present to tell the stories behind the sounds and reveals how innovation redefined not only what we listen to and how we listen to it, but our very sense of what music is and can be.

Viewers of all ages will hear the songs they love in a whole new way.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Queen Productions Ltd.

Freddie Mercury and Brian May are two of more than 150 artists featured in SOUNDBREAKING.

Episode 3: "The Human Instrument" - Celebrate the most essential part of a song and the most challenging to capture — the vocal track.

This episode considers the ineffable emotional quality that makes a vocal track truly great; with Adele, Amy Winehouse and Christina Aguilera.

The Unmistakable Bessie Smith

In episode 3 of SOUNDBREAKING, Bonnie Raitt and Roger Waters look to the pure emotion Bessie Smith brought to early Blues records. Bessie had a powerful voice, but studio innovations created the elements needed to record it at its most vulnerable. The closeness, made possible by emerging recording technology allowed Bessie to reach out through the speaker and sing directly to the listener.


Only clips from the series are available to view on demand.

Each SOUNDBREAKING episode was made available for next-day digital purchase following its broadcast via multiple platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Hulu, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV and Sony Interactive Entertainment.

The series is available on DVD and Blu-ray at The hardcover book is also available for purchase.

The Making of the Song: Imogen Heap

In episode 3 of SOUNDBREAKING, "The Human Instrument," Imogen Heap demonstrates the power of the human voice as an instrument and the independence studio innovations have provided for musicians today. Looping lyrics and beats, Heap improvises a track to show the unlimited creativity available to her in her home studio.


SOUNDBREAKING is on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and you can follow @soundbreaking on Twitter. #Soundbreaking

Soundbreaking | Trailer

The eight-part series explores the art of music recording, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the birth of brand new sounds. Featuring more than 160 original interviews with some of the most celebrated recording artists of all time, Soundbreaking explores the nexus of cutting-edge technology and human artistry that has created the soundtrack of our lives. Airs weekdays, November 14-23 10/9c.

This series premiered on KPBS in November 2016.

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