As a kid, I used to “chipmunk” songs by playing the tape (yes, I’m that old) slightly too fast. Now I have the magic of Audacity to achieve the same effect while still at a speed where you can actually undersand the lyrics.
To chipmunkify Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”:
- I downloaded the song from YouTube using the PwnYouTube bookmarklet.
- I then extracted the audio using MPEG Stream Clip. You can also import it directly into Audacity and the program will automatically extract the audio from the video. But I prefer to use MPEG Stream Clip so that I have the aiff file to work with separately. To extract in MPEG Stream Clip:
- Go to File –> Export Audio
- Leave the default settings and save as AIFF
- I then imported the aiff file into an Audacity project by going to File –> Import –> Audio.
- I selected the entire song and went to Effect –> Change Pitch. This is what creates the chipmunk effect without affecting the speed of the song. It does, however, also change the pitch of the background music.
- I played around with the degree of change. There is a preview option that can be helpful, but what I found most useful was actually making the change and then undoing it if it didn’t sound right (too high to understand, too low to sound like a chipmunk). This is one thing I love about Audacity – no change is irreversible.
- I eventually settled on a 50% increase. I could have gone finer than that – it allows up to six digits in the percentage (so 4 decimal places), but I figured this was good enough. If I was attempting to make a chipmunk video I might go finer, but for a one-off song this is sufficient.
- I then exported the song as an mp3. This requires having the LAME encoder library installed.
Once I had the mp3 in hand (or “on desktop”, if you prefer) I uploaded it to SoundCloud and shared the wonder of Chipmunk Minaj with the world.