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Bruno Mars "24K Magic" Breakdown

Welcome to our tutorial on how to make the sound design of all the synths behind one of the funkiest songs out there "24K Magic" by Bruno Mars, we are big fans of anything funky and disco so to say this tutorial is overdue is not an exaggeration, let's dive into the intricate details of this chart-topping track, released in 2016, "24K Magic" features a remarkable groovy bassline and an abundance of funky synth sounds that make it a perfect representation of the genre and a great track to remake from scratch using Serum, so let's start.

This article was possible because all of the presets from this breakdown came from our French House Serum pack and it has have 20% off with the code: SP01.

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There's no denying that the bass is the soul and heart of the track. It gives the song so much movement and groove that it's impossible not to dance along, to make this bass sound, we used an IHasCanKick wavetable in oscillator "A" with 5 voices to make the sound nice and wide, then, in oscillator "B", we used a Basic Shape and selected the bend option in the warp mode section, setting it at 100%, now to get this funky kind of bass patch you need an envelope (in this case envelope) to modulate the cutoff of the filter, the set your resonance at around 45%, and for those slides between notes don't forget to set the legato and mono on.

 

When it comes to making music, sometimes it's better to keep things simple and let the other elements shine. That's exactly what we're going to do with the synth stabs in the chorus, even though this sound on its own may not be that impressive when it's combined with the drums, bassline, and arpeggio, it creates pure magic! so to make this sound, we used another IHasCanKick wavetable in oscillator "A" and a basic Shape in oscillator "B" with the PMW mode in the warp knob, then to make it sound stabby, we used envelope 2 to modulate (which should have a short release and decay) the levels of the oscillators, the PMW mode on oscillator "B", and the cutoff of the filter. This gives the sound a nice and sharp quality that really cuts through the mix.

 

Even though this synth may sound quite similar to the previous one, it's actually quite different this one is not as bright as the one in the chorus and is less predominant, but it still adds another layer to the track, to make this sound, we used a basic shape in oscillator "A" with some frequency modulation and in oscillator "B" we used a PWM_Mdc with the sync mode at around 60% in the warp knob, but the real secret to this preset is in envelope 3, first, you need your attack to be at around 50ms to give this kinda brassy effect, and the release should be short, then, we routed it to the levels of the oscillators and the cutoff of the filter.

We've now arrived at the bridge section of the track, and the main element here is this huge and powerful Reese type of bass and to make it, we used a Jno wavetable in oscillator "A" with 5 voices and spread the detune so it's nice and wide then in oscillator "B", we used a basic Shape with 6 voices and also spread the detune. This gives the sound a nice and full stereo image that's just perfect for the bridge we used envelope 2 to modulate the levels of the oscillators, and the filter should be cutting everything above 400 Hz, now to add even more warmth and character to the sound turned up the drive and fat in the filter, which gives a presence to the sound that really fills up the mix.

While the Reese bass is playing a simple melody, these chords are the progression behind it, this sound it's quite simple to make, the only thing you need is for it to have a big stereo image and to do that we used an IHasCanKick wavetable in oscillator "A" and a Basic Shape in oscillator "B" and then we gave  many voices to both oscillators and spread the detune, finally, we used an LFO to modulate the finetuning of both oscillators so they feel a little more analog.

If you notice this sound is being slowly opened by a filter during the duration of the bridge which is 8 bars, so don't forget to add one and automate the cutoff.

We've finally reached the final element of the track, and it's quite a big one! This arp gives a breath of fresh air to the song, and when it enters the mix, it just glues everything together like magic, we used a SawRounded wavetable in oscillator "A" and only gave it 1 voice. In oscillator "B", we used a Basic Mg with the Sync at 2.95% in the warp knob, then to add even more depth and to the sound, we used delay and reverb to taste in the Fx tab.

I guess that wasn't all, the reason we give one voice to each oscillator is because in the track the pan is being automated from one side to another, just automate it like in the image below to give this effect or use and autopan.