Com Truise: Breaking Down the Synths in “Existence Schematic” (Video)

+ This video lesson is presented courtesy of Com Truise’s Mid-Fi Synthwave Slow-Motion Funk course. To access this and hundreds more in-depth videos and tutorials, subscribe to Soundfly.

This video was premiered by our friends at Reverb Machine.

In this post, we’re taking a closer look at some of the sounds used in Com Truise’s “Existence Schematic” (from Persuasion System), including the Arturia Matrix-12 V patches he put together for the main chords and bass sounds.

The song “Existence Schematic” was inspired by the grid-like appearance of Los Angeles’s city lights when seen from an airplane preparing to land at night. Seth saw that as a kind of architectural schematic of society, an idea that became a source of creative fuel for a new song.

Main Pads

The main pads in the song were created using Arturia’s Matrix-12 V plug-in, which emulates the sound of Oberheim’s analog Matrix 12 synth. As Seth notes in the video, Oberheim’s Matrix series had a very specific filter that created a sharp digital sound and sweeping quality he wanted for “Existence Schematic.” 

Have another listen:

Let’s take a look at a rough approximation of how Com Truise came up with this patch. 

To start, we’ll need a synth with several oscillators and the ability to create a lot of movement. Obviously, if you have the Arturia Matrix-12 emulation, this is a great place to start!

For our “rebuild” version, we’ve set up the two VCOs to trigger both Pulse and Sawtooth waves, with VCOs one and two tuned -/+12 cents, respectively.

ES RB01 lbl v02

The filter is set very low, but the modulation amount through Envelope 1 is all the way up, so the filter opens up all the way when a note is played and then sweeps down slowly through the decay and release. We’ve also set a fairly high resonance to further emphasize that sweep.

ES RB02 lbl v02

The amplitude envelope (a.k.a., volume envelope), Envelope 2, is set to sustain fully, and decay and release slowly. The MIDI chords are set up to hold three out of the four beats of each bar, and then blur a little bit into the next chord with the long release.

ES RB03 lbl v02

We’ve added some classic Com Truise wobble to our oscillators by modulating the frequency of both oscillators with LFO 2. It’s set to a triangle wave and a fairly slow but perceivable frequency, with a modest amount, just the way Seth teaches us in his course!

ES RB04 lbl

Lastly, to incur a good amount of phase-y, sweep-y goodness, we’ve instantiated the plugin’s built-in chorus effect. We’ve set it to “Type 1” and dialed up a high amount of fairly slow chorus.

The stereo is turned all the way down to maximize phasiness. The blend is around 40% wet.

ES RB05 lbl

If you’ve got a good synth at your fingertips, give this patch a go!

Bass

The bass was also created using the Arturia Matrix-12. Notice the phasing effect on the sound, which is something Seth says he’s really drawn to.

Check it out again here:

This patch rebuild wasn’t too different from the pad sound — just with much lower notes! It features Seth’s classic approach to analog bass — two sawtooth oscillators, with one detuned enough from the other to create some real width and depth (and also an octave apart from the other).

ES RB06 lbl

It’s got a full-frequency sound and a full-sustain amp envelope, and almost all of the tone shaping from there has to do with creating “phasing” effects and more width.

ES RB06B lbl


First, the filter is set to a “3 Phase” filter in the Filter section. This creates a narrow notch filter (or “band-reject” filter) that, when modulated over time, creates a sweeping, phasey effect.

In order to modulate the frequency of this filter, we’ll need to set up that modulation. In the Matrix-12, we’ll need to click the “Destination” area under the “Modulation Page” section of the synth in order to open up the Mod Source programming window.

In this patch, there’s a slow envelope modulating the filter frequency up, and simultaneously there is a slow “ramp” modulating the frequency down — essentially pushing and pulling against one another over time, as one is slowly falling and the other slowly rising.

There are loads of places we can source modulation from by clicking on different source boxes within the Modulation section:

ES RB07

From there, we add a couple final phasey effects — the literal “Phaser” effect, and a washy chorus effect to widen it out even more.

This helps it sound washy and huge!

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For Seth’s approach from here, he used the Chandler Curve Bender to EQ the bass. It’s a plug-in he says he’s used on pretty much every bass sound he’s worked with since acquiring it.

For the most part, he chose to really let the Matrix-12 be itself, allowing it to shine through the rest of the track. In this case, some light chorus and simple EQ work were all that was needed to make the sounds fit his vision.

Try a similar sound out for yourself!

That’s about it for this lesson, learn more in Com Truise’s exclusive course on Soundfly. And check out Reverb Machine for a wide range of in-depth synth and music theory breakdowns.

Don’t stop here!

Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, mixing, recording and production, composing, beat making, and more on Soundfly, with artist-led courses by Kimbra, JlinKiefer, RJD2, Ryan Lott, and of course, Com Truise: Mid-Fi Synthwave Slow-Motion Funk

Elijah Fox at the piano

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