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The Weeknd "Out Of Time" Breakdown

The Weeknd's third single and greatest song overall (in our opinion) off his fifth studio album Dawn FM, "Out of Time," is covered in detail in this tutorial.
This song gives us a glimpse of the Weeknd deviating from the synthwave and pop we were used and diving into the R&B and Soul from the 80s, it also helps that the sample used throughout the whole song, "Midnight Pretenders" by Tomoko Aran is just amazing, so lets give it s listen.

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


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This bass is the life of the track, it gives groove and rhythm the second it starts playing, to make this patch we use sample a fender bass and drop it in the noise oscillator (always sample a sustain "C" note) the enable the one shot mode and the pitch tracking in the noise oscillator and pitch it 12 semitones up, then add a sinewave in each oscillator and use envelope 2 with a decay of 750 ms and a release of 15 ms to modulate the cutoff filter.

Another instrument that was sampled, but in this case we didn't use the noise oscillator we created our own wavetables from a one shot of a Fender Telecaster we have at the studio, so grab your one shot and import it into to wavetable image and choose the constant frame size (pitch avg) option, then use the LFO 1 to move the wavetable ( as seen in the image below), now for the final touch our envelope 2 is modulating the cutoff filter with a decay of 250 ms, this will make the patch to sound plucky and more close to a mute guitar, then add a quarter note delay and thats it.

Now to make this Keys sound as closer to the ones used in the track we needed two layers, the first one giving a lot of higher frequencies while the second layer is giving a lot of body and warmth.

To program this Rhodes style patch in Serum, use a Harmonic Subtle in oscillator "A" and Basic Mini in oscillator "B" modulate the cutoff filter with envelope 2 and set the resonance at 10%, the important part of this layers is that the LFO in this case number 1 is modulating the Amp and to do this you need to set it up in the matrix Tab, this modulation is what is making the vibrato effect.

Since the first layer provides all the brightness, this layer perfectly complements the first one as is giving all the warmth and body to the sound, to make it we started with two sinewave one in each oscillator use 5 to 6 voices and detune it a little, now to make the vibrato effect we did in the first layer use LFO 1 to modulate the volume of the oscillators and the amp ( the rate should be the same as the first layer).

The Out Of Time lead synth has a characteristic brass sound and it seems to run through some distortion, to start use an IHasCanKick in oscillator "A" with four voices and slightly detune, in oscillator "B" use a basic shape in its second position and with some frequency modulation coming form oscillator "A" at around 30% is fine, the to give the characteristic brass sound you need envelope one to have an attack between 50 and 80 ms and route it to the cutoff filter.

This synth comes as a third layer to the keys as is playing the some chord progression, to make this preset we need a IHasCanKick in oscillator "A" with seven voices and a SQR_SAW_Wrd in oscillator "B" with a sync warp at 2%, then our envelope one which is modulating the cutoff filter has an attack at around 70 mms and to make it sound wider use a chorus an a hyper dimension in the FX Tab.

We almost didn't make this tutorial because of this preset, for some reason, it took us a while the get the right sound, first you need a IHasCanKick in oscillator "A" with nine voices and a SAW_SQR_Wrd in oscillator "B", now the trick to make this sound is in envelope 2, you need to route it to the levels of the oscillators and to the cutoff filter, this envelope should have an attack at around 110 to 130 ms to make this kinda flute sound.

Now in the FX tab add some hyper dimension dome chorus and reverb but the most important part is to have a EQ cutting everything below 600Hz and everything above 2kHz.

Now we left the best part for the end, this amazing sound is actually quite common in this type of genre, use a sinewave in oscillator "A" with some frequency modulation coming from oscillator "B" and in oscillator "B" use a WahWah wavetable with some sync at around 1.50%, use one LFO to modulate the amp (you have to do this in the matrix tab) to have a vibrato effect and be sure no to activate the mono or legato because you need the notes to overlap to have this kind of cascade sound.