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Soundbreaking is an eight-part series on the art and evolution of music recording.

0m 30s

Episode 8 Preview | I Am My Music

“I Am My Music” shifts the focus from the creation of music to the experience of listening to it, and to the formats that defined that experience. From vinyl, cassette tape, CD, and MP3, each generation has had a piece of musical media to call its own.

2m 59s

The Era of Private Music Listening

In the final episode of Soundbreaking, we explore how the evolution of formats continues to expand the social and sonic experiences of music. The personal listening experience of CDs and cassettes came, for many, at the costs of quality.But for producer Bob Ludwig, CDs offered a new challenge to explore the highest fidelities available in the recording process.

3m 20s

The Record Wars and Rock and Roll

In the final episode of Soundbreaking, we discover that the music formats that are so familiar to us now, the single and the LP, were actually born out of a 'format war' between rival record companies RCA Victor and Columbia. With commentary from Steven Van Zandt on new recording freedom for artists and the emergence of Rock and Roll.

0m 30s

Episode 7 Preview | Sound and Vision

Tracking the music video from MTV to the internet, Sound and Vision tells the story of how a one-time marketing tool became a powerful mediator between artist and audience, and illuminates the music video's role in the popular music of today.

3m 13s

An Experiment, A “One Off”: Nirvana on MTV Unplugged

In Sound and Vision, Soundbreaking chronicles MTV’s influence on records through Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance. An experimental “live” performance format became a new opportunity for a band experiment publicly with new sounds. Producer Scott Litt and band member Dave Grohl reflect on the fact that even though Nirvana was reluctant to perform, it has since become a staple of their catalog.

3m 15s

Jimmy Jam: MTV Was White Rock Music Television

The launch of MTV established a new creative platform for recording artists but not everyone had access to it. In Sound and Vision, Soundbreaking explores the historic moment Michael Jackson broke through the race barrier changing the face of the channel forever. Featuring flashbacks with the iconic Rick James and commentary from Jason King, Nelson George and Jimmy Jam.

0m 30s

Episode 6 Preview | The World is Yours

"The World is Yours" looks at a musical revolution that was not only inspired by recording but born from its history: the art of sampling—a kind of musical equivalent of Adam's rib. Beginning with the pioneers of hip hop (Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, Rick Rubin), the episode tracks the way in which the practice of borrowing fragments from existing records created a new genre.

4m 31s

Questlove: Rappers Delight Was a War of the Worlds Moment

The meteoric rise of rap music started with an unforgettable record: Rapper’s Delight from Sugarhill Studios in 1980. In episode six of Soundbreaking, academic Todd Boyd tracks the record’s roots to a pizza parlor in New Jersey with commentary from Public Enemy’s Chuck D., Neneh Cherry, Questlove and Chic’s Nile Rodgers,

1m 22s

The Holy Trinity of Hip Hop and Rap Music Was Three DJs

Episode 6 of Soundbreaking, The World is Yours, explores the birth of Rap and Hip Hop from the Caribbean to the Bronx. Public Enemy’s Chuck D., DJ Spooky and Jason King look at the innovations in recording studio that brought the spirit of the mobile sound system, and the Caribbean tradition of “toasting” to the masses.

0m 30s

Episode 5 Preview | Four on the Floor

If the vocal track is the heart of a song, the rhythm track—the beat—is its body. It is the sonic element that taps into the most primal part of us and makes us want to move. “Four on the Floor” breaks the beat down, and examines the endless experimentation that has taken place at its core, the very bedrock of all music.

2m 17s

The Power of Gospel’s Frenzied Rhythm

Little Richard brought the fervor of gospel into the limelight through his electrifying arrangements and driving beat. In this clip Jason King and Todd Boyd track his pounding, frenzied beat to the foundations of modern Rock and Roll.

2m 18s

Nile Rodgers: The Crowd Where The Music Never Stops

Disco brought together diverse communities and created a never ending beat that brought everyone to the dancefloor. Episode five of Soundbreaking takes you on a journey back to the Hippy days of Greenwich Village, New York to the creation of Chic’s groovy Disco classic ‘Everybody Dance’ through Nile Rodgers' own story.

0m 30s

Episode 4 Preview | Going Electric

“Going Electric” tells the story of how electricity has been harnessed and channeled to create new and never-before-heard sounds, tracing both the chain reaction unleashed by the invention of the electric guitar and the evolution of synthesized music.

2m 41s

The Who in the Studio: The Synth is a Member of the Band

In this clip from Going Electric, Producer of The Who, Glyn Johns, traces the origins of Baba O’Riley to a unique synthesized rhythm pattern Peter Townsend created as the base for the song. A song that could only have come from the studio became unforgettable live and on record when juxtaposed with the explosive vocals of Roger Daltrey and the guitar, bass and drums of the band.

2m 9s

What Would Happen to the Music Business Without Electricity?

In Going Electric, Soundbreaking explores the unstoppable chain reaction in the recording studio triggered by plugging in. Giorgio Moroder, The Black Keys’ Patrick Kearney and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl celebrate the new world of electric guitars and synthesizers while Producer Linda Perry and The Who’s Roger Daltrey highlight some of the downsides of turning up the volume.

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Episode 3 Preview | The Human Instrument

Celebrating the most powerful of all instruments, “The Human Instrument” surveys the range of ingredients that go into a perfect vocal track. Featuring rare studio footage of some the world's most renowned vocalists––from blues divas to suave crooners to rock star screamers.

2m 3s

The Unmistakable Bessie Smith

In Episode three 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.

2m 48s

The Making of the Song: Imogen Heap

In episode three 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.

0m 30s

Episode 2 Preview | Painting with Sound

“Painting with Sound” chronicles a watershed event in the history of music: the moment when the recording studio itself effectively became an instrument and gave rise to sounds that could never be reproduced live.

1m 35s

Nobody Knew That Boston Wasn’t Really a Band At All

In the second episode of Soundbreaking, guitarist Tom Scholz chronicles how he nearly single-handedly created the hit record of Boston in his home studio, with the technique known as 'multi-tracking.' Music writer Chuck Granata and Tom Scholz discuss the secret hidden in plain sight--the record company had no idea that they weren't promoting a live band.

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