National Press Club

New PBS series 'Soundbreaking,' previewed at Club, tells overlooked history of recorded music

November 10, 2016 | By Shelby Ostergaard | shelbyostergaard@gmail.com

National Press Club President Thomas Burr (left) moderates a panel discussing the new PBS series, "Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Music," which previewed at the Club Nov. 9.

National Press Club President Thomas Burr (left) moderates a panel discussing the new PBS series, "Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Music," which previewed at the Club Nov. 9.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

The evolution of recording technology is one of the most important stories of the 20th Century that remains untold, speakers at a preview of the upcoming PBS television series, “Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Music,” said at a National Press Club Newsmaker event Nov. 9.

The eight-part series, which begins Monday, Nov. 14, tells that story. The last project of Sir George Martin, a music producer commonly known as “the fifth Beatle” who passed away March 8, the series chronicles the sonic revolution of recorded music -- how technology has changed the way sound is recorded and, therefore, has forever changed the way people experience music.

Speakers at the Newsmaker, echoing Martin’s belief that the impact of recording is an untold story, hailed the advent of the series.

“Technology has changed the way we record sound," said David H. Langstaff, CEO and president of HigherGround Higher Ground, a Washington D.C.-based company that conceived and executive produced the series. He explained that Martin saw that change as “a non-chronological story -- a story that needed to be told."
Technology has changed the way we record sound," said Terry Martin

“Soundbreaking” is the result of intense collaboration, said Langstaff. “So many people have had fingerprints on this,” Ryan Langstaff noted.

Jonathan Barzilay, chief operating officer of PBS, echoed the sentiment, adding that PBS is privileged to present a project so mired in the arts. Show of Force, an award-winning television and film production company, directed and produced the series.

According to promotional materials, the series includes more than 160 original interviews with “some of the most celebrated recording artists, producers, and music industry pioneers of all time.”

The series is split into eight parts, not necessarily telling a chronological story but instead featuring an individual theme in each part. Episode two, “Painting with Sound,”and episode three, “The Human Instrument” were shown at the National Press Club.

The preview was followed by a panel discussion featuring Joshua Bennett, a filmmaker at Show of Force, Hank Shocklee, a music producer of Public Enemy and Sam Brylawski, a former chair at the Library of Congress National Recording Preservation Board.