Chipmunk Minaj: Starships

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”:

  1. I downloaded the song from YouTube using the PwnYouTube bookmarklet.
  2. 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:
    1. Go to File –> Export Audio
    2. Leave the default settings and save as AIFF
  3. I then imported the  aiff file into an Audacity project by going to File –> Import –> Audio.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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One Response to Chipmunk Minaj: Starships

  1. I LOVE IT! It reminds me of Alvin and the Chipmunks and it makes me visualize them dancing and shacking their butt. I think you did a really goood job with this audio and I thought the pitchyness was very appropirate. I totally agree with you when you say that too high wouldn’t have been very understandable and too low wouldn’t have sounded like a chipmunk. Your sense of judgment was on point for this sound and I really enjoyed it.
    While reading your post I noticed that you did not put the actual link to where you got your assigment from in the audio assigment repository. I don’t know if you have seen the week 7 and 8 video from Prof. Burtis and Prof. Levine, but they really stress the importance of actually having a link to click to see where you have gotten your assigment from, it makes it easier on them, which eventually makes them happier when grading your assigments! Another thing is that you did a tutorial for this assigment… Let me just say that your tutorial was beyond helpful and I actually bookmarked your page so I can use it when I do this assigment. I saw that you tagged the assigment appropriately according to what was on the assigment page, but if you go back to the syllabus for this course, under Creating Tutorial it says “Also use the tag ds106tutorials so that we can aggregate the tutorial into one page.” You have to use this tag along with all of the other appropriate tags for your assigment. I didn’t want you missing out on getting full credit, specially when it’s obvious that you put a lot of effort into the tutorial.
    I hope I helped out a little, and again amazing job on your assigment AND tutorial!

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