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Bruno Mars "That's What I Like" Breakdown

In this tutorial we'll be remaking all the synths from Bruno Mars' hit song "That's What I Like" using Serum, If you're a fan of the song, you know that this groovy and funky track dominated the airwaves back in 2017. The song highlight a variety of synths that showcases Bruno Mars' signature style, combining elements of R&B, funk, and pop and featuring a variety of instruments and sounds together to create its unique sound, from the smooth bassline to the playful synths, each element of the song plays a crucial role in its overall vibe making it  an instant favorite among fans and critics alike.
So in this breakdown we'll guide you through the process step-by-step, explaining each parameter and technique along the way so by the end you'll have a solid understanding of how to recreate the synths from "That's What I Like."

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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Let's talk about the bass in this song, because it's seriously one of the most important instruments, it's a catchy line that repeats throughout the song and really drives the groove of the whole track, alright, let's start recreating the bass, first we used a Basic MG in oscillator "A" and a Basic_Wrd in oscillator "B," both with 4 voices, to give it a little extra brightness, we added some frequency modulation to oscillator "B", and to really shape the sound, we used envelope 2 to modulate the cutoff of the filter,  and the final touch is to have the resonance of the filter to be around 65%.

The other main element that pops in the verse and the chorus next to the bassline is this synth sound, which is quite dry and stabby, we used an SQR_Saw_Wrd in oscillator "A" and a SawRounded in oscillator "B" and they both have seven voices to make it sound wider, use envelope 2 to modulate the cutoff of the filter and something that is not showing in the image below is that envelope 1 should have a very short release so the sound doesn't have a tail.

Now that we've reached the bridge of the song, there's a really cool subby bass that comes in. If you're reading this tutorial on your phone, you might have a bit of trouble hearing this sound, but trust us, it's there, first you'll need PWM Maths in oscillator "A" and a Basic Shape in oscillator "B," both one octave down, for the sub, you should use a Saw wavetable two octaves down, use envelope 2 to modulate the leves of both oscillators and use the filter to cutoff everything above 200 Hz and crank the drive and fat knobs to give some warmth to the sound.

The synth sound that really brings the high frequencies to fill out the spectrum in the bridge. It's one of the three elements that really make this section stand out, to create this sound, we started with a saw wavetable in oscillator "A" and a IHasCanKick wavetable in oscillator "B", then we used envelope 2 to modulate the cutoff of the filter, but here's the secret sauce: to get that brassy sound that really makes this synth stand out, the attack of the envelope should be around 40 ms to about 80 ms. In this case, we set it right in the middle.

The final element that appears in the bridge section it's a really cool Rhodes-type of keys, and it's playing the same chord progression as the synth, but every quarter note, to create this sound, we started with an FFT_Adds_2nds in oscillator "A" and an Analog_Bd_Sin in oscillator "B," one octave up this adds a layer of brightness that really helps the keys stand out then we added a Sine wavetable in the sub oscillator to give it a bit of warmth and depth, to really make this sound perfect, we used envelope 1 to modulate the cutoff of the filter, just slightly. This helps to give the sound a bit of movement and keeps it interesting throughout the bridge.

We saved the best for last - the lead sound! This patch was really fun to make because it uses quite a lot of modulation. To get started, we used a Basic_Wrd in oscillator "A" and a IHasCanKick in oscillator "B," both with ten voices.
Now, to give this patch its characteristic funky sound, we need to do two things. First, we need to use a Formant-I filter and modulate its parameters with LFO 2, this helps to give the sound a really unique and interesting texture, second, we need to use an LFO to modulate the finetuning at a 1/16 note rate. This helps to give the sound a bit of movement.

The final touch to really make this lead sound shine is to add a slow modulation to the finetuning, this is really easy to do, just go to the Matrix tab and use envelope 2 as an Aux source.