Native Speed

image credit: Mando Gomez

Slow down a song by The Chipmunks just the right amount and you’ll hear the real voice actors singing. The geek inside me is a little insulted I didn’t think of this myself.

I actually did think of this before, kind of. A year ago I recorded a cricket chirping outside my apartment in Raleigh at a high sample rate, roughly calculated the ratio of its body mass to my own, and slowed down the track to hear what it would sound like (this is a stretch) if I were its size — or I guess, if it were mine. With only a low quality laptop microphone the result was surprisingly good, though probably not very accurate.

Enter Avisoft Bioacoustics and their Ultrasound Recording System. The following recording, taken from their library of animal sounds, is of a Great Green Bush-cricket (Tettigonia viridissima) and is slowed down by a factor of 10. Not quite the body mass ratio I calculated (that’s not what they’re going for) but it was a shot in the dark anyway.

20 Replies to “Native Speed”

  1. Yeah, I did this on college radio in the 1980s with this very song. We had a variable-speed turntable where I played a 45 at 33 and then adjusted the speed up it so it sounded roughly like this. Experiment took about 30 seconds to perfect on that turntable.

  2. It’s funny, I also did this a while back with the same Chipmunks song just for kicks (sad?). Only I did things a little differently: The trick is to bring the pitch down without affecting the time. That way, things don’t sound so slowed down, but you can still hear the singers’ original voices. Here’s an mp3 of my version (right-click and save as):

    Alvin & The Slowmunks – Please Christmas Don’t Be Late

  3. It’s interesting to hear how exactly he is pronouncing the words… to make they could be understood at the higher speed and pitch.

  4.…so…awsome… nice post. lol but the christmas song gives me back good memories when i was once alot younger… sigh… good times, goood times. and the cricket was trippy!

  5. Oh man, I loved that. As a die hard Chipmunk fan, I couldn’t help laughing. And of course they all sound like Dave. Dave is Ross Bagdasarian, the creator of the Chipmunks. In the original song (which both of the slowed down versions clearly are), he did all the voices until he passed away in 1972, when his son Ross Bagdasarian Jr, and his wife Janice Karman took over. Bagdasarian Jr as Dave, Alvin and Simon, and Karman as Theodore, and eventually the Chipettes (yeech, not a fan of those punks).
    Good work guys!

  6. I have a question…Are they puting the Chipmunks back on tv? That would be my dream come true. Actually i emailed and wrote a letter to cartoon network asking if they could or if they are. I heard they might be making a second movie of alvin and the chipmunks has anyone else heard of this yet? I hope so!!!!!!!! I am obsessed with the chipmunks. I have bought in lieraly the past month an alvin and he chipmunks walet, the chipmunk adventure movie, the new chimunk movie, funny we shrunk the adults, chipmunks in low places, the new soundtrack, urban chipmunk, and the chipmunks greatesr hits still sqeaky after all these years. I have seen the new chipmunk mvie 13 times!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU ALVIN SEVILLE!!! (Maybe too much)

  7. Guess what chipmunk fans. They are making a second chipmunk movie with the chipettes in it coming out next spring!!!!! I am siked, i found out last night. I am telling everyone on like every chipmunk fan site i can find!!!!

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