Sound Design Tutorial Lady Gaga Poker Face in Omnisphere

Hey everyone, today we are going to recreate the recognisable bass sequence from Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. This is the bit that kicks in just after the lighter synth at the beginning. We first hear this sequence played on the more melodic lighter synth once and then this bass sequence kicks right in.

It’s quite a simple patch but there’s a few little tricks as we go along that you may find interesting. Although I am using Omnisphere in this tutorial, this patch will translate perfectly well to any other three oscillator synth. All you need to make sure is that the synth has some kind of Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) waveform.

Let’s start from an initial patch within Omnisphere. Just go up to Utility and select Initialise patch. This patch requires three oscillators, so we can enable all three by pressing the big buttons at the bottom of the interface, or by using the little lights under the oscillator/layer names at the top.

omnisphere interface


Setting the Oscillators

We need to set the first layer to -24, and the second and third to -12. For the second and third layer  we also need to introduce a chorus effect but without reaching for any effects. This sounds really counterintuitive but this can be achieved by detuning two layers against each other. For layer B we turn the fine tune knob to +10 and for the layer C we turn this the other way to -10.

Choosing the Waveforms

Now the basic housekeeping is set, we go to layer A where we need to find a square wave. For this I am going to go to classic waveforms, square, mini brute square.

For layer B I am going to choose a sawtooth waveform. Classic waveforms,  sawtooth, Moog modular saw.

For layer C we need a PWM waveform and I am going to select Classic waveforms, Pulse, Minimoog Pulse Wide. We also need to add a little movement to the PWM shape. If we right click on the Shape slide and select LFO. This will link the LFO to the Shape parameter. In the LFO section we need to change this to a triangle shape, and change the rate knob to 2.00hz, this will give the movement we need. 

Whilst we are in layer C I need to set the filter section to Low Pass Warm 24db. Open the cutoff to maximum and just give it a little resonance of 0.150. For layer A and B we don’t need any filters enabled.

Shaping the Envelope

Now to the envelope section. The only one we are interested in is the AMP envelope. This needs to have both the attack and decay set to 0, the sustain open fully and the release set to around 0.173 seconds. This needs to be applied to all three layers. The easiest way of doing this is to click on this little down arrow at the top the envelope section, select copy envelope preset. Go to layer B and click on the same arrow and click on paste envelope preset. Let’s do the same for layer C.

To get a thicker sound, enable unison on each layer, ensure spread is all the way up and set the depth to 0.458.

For the final touch we need to go back into the main page and select solo and set the number of voices to 4. We now have a sound that is pretty darn close, but we can make it better and get that short stabby sound by using the sequencer. 

Programming the Sequence

First set the clock to 1/8th notes and make sure your clock is at 120bpm. The track appears to be in Ab minor so the pattern you need to set up is as follows:

  1. The first two steps are at pitch, we then need to drop the next two a whole octave. 
  2. The next two steps need to drop down 5 semitones and the next a whole octave again.
  3. The next two steps are at pitch, so we don’t need to change anything here. 
  4. The next step is down 5 semitones and then 9 semitones. 
  5. The next two are set down 2 semitones, and 
  6. The final two are at -14 to get an octave and two semitones down. That’s it, and if you play Ab just below middle C, you get the sequence playing.

omnisphere sequence poker face

Now we are almost there, the final icing on the cake is to turn the Length knob down 0.355. There we have it, the bass sequence from Lady Gaga’s Pokerface within Omnisphere.

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