November 15, 2012 at 10:51 am

Listen: What If Lady Gaga and Wham Made Chiptunes?


For the uninitiated, “chiptunes” are 8-bit versions of songs that sound as if they were made for video game systems from two decades ago. A large underground community is dedicated chiptuning songs and, for the most part, creating original works using vintage consoles and computers (updated), but AutoChipTune just made the former whole process a lot easier.

Much like how AutoTune lets people pitch correct their voices on the fly, AutoChipTune turns any song into an retro 8-bit version, which sounds like it’s coming out of a Nintendo Entertainment System (listen below).

“Auto-tune revolutionized the music industry, but at best, it was a half-measure,” writes cheeky Brian McFee, a postdoc at Columbia University’s LabRosa. “Really, what we need, is a way to automatically convert raw audio streams into glorious 8-bit chiptunes!”

This clever hack won one of two prizes from The Echo Nest (publisher of at Music Hack Day Boston, and uses its remix API among other technologies. If you are exceedingly clever in the ways of code, you can run it yourself. The rest of us will have to be satisfied with these samples:

Note: This article was updated to include the fact that some people create original chiptunes, which is great.

  • Shawn Phase Craig Jakubowski


  • Guest

    no really, you dont know what chiptunes actually are. dont delete my comments, go read about what a chiptune ACTUALLY IS.

  • Guest

    no, seriously. you dont know what chiptunes are.

  • Shawn Phase Craig Jakubowski

    stop spreading misinformation about chiptunes.

  • Guest

    stop deleting our comments, reword your article. OR do your research and figure out what chiptunes are.

  • applooza

    this is the most misleading, faulty article i have read this year. seriously, no sentence is correct :)

  • chodeanus

    It sure wouldn’t fucking sound like this

  • softreset

    Despite the blatant misinformation about chiptune, these samples sound awful. 0/10 you didn’t even try

  • guest

    lol cool chipt00nz bro

  • e.s.c.

    it’s important to note that most chiptunes are original compositions, not just poor quality covers of popular songs

  • shiptune

    have you heard of this new genre where dudes make music using the hardware limitations of old naval vessels from world war 2 it’s called shiptune they have a web site for shiptunes it’s called pearl harbor collective

  • hi

    did you guys know that all of the humanoids in seattle have borderline personality disorder and/or psychosis sociopath disorder or some other type of psychological problem. they make chiptunes they’re seattle, the whole seattle is full of the most vile people, 99% of the people in that city (and the nearby cities) have any conscience or soul at all

  • hi

    *99% of the people in seattle and nearby cities (including the chiptune artists) don’t have any conscience or soul at all

  • hi

    do you guys like to poop? i like to poop. what kind of toilets do you guys use when you take a big poopy dump out of your rectum. oh yeah pooping. fecal matter yeah sewage, the smell of several humans fecals combined into one big mega poopy metrpolotian poopy mashup MM YEAH god we love music that is comparable to fecal matter it is our favorite

  • vroad

    i’m sure there’s a better use for this software than something that can already be done with GSXCC and the world’s leading source of bad MIDI rips (i.e. the internet). cool precedent, but silly execution :<

  • Faerlight

    For the uninitiated, don’t write articles about chiptunes!

  • ilkae

    wow, this is absolutely shameful and absolutely disrespectful to anyone who has ever used a tracker to write music.

  • dicklips

    this is lame and i’m already sad for all the 8-bit covers this is gonna create, boo

  • pathetic

    I’m not going to comment on the content of the article.
    The end result of this program speaks for itself.
    Nether of the clips provided remotely sound like chiptune.
    They sound like a coked-up rat trapped inside a cheesy horror movie robot trying to escape.

  • trofl


  • Invisible Robot Hands

    You showed a complete lack of knowledge of chipmusic and its creation, and went on to promote something that sounds awful and has nothing to do with chipmusic. F-
    See me after class.
    You can do better than this.

  • Doxic

    Most people in the “undergroud” community don’t even like popular music, what we really need is to make autochip songs of popular chipmusic

  • eliotvb

    I’m not deleting any comments. I thought I knew what chiptunes were… covered the Blip Festival for Wired – does that count?

  • eliotvb

    ShipTune sounds amazing.

  • eliotvb

    Yep – agreed. I updated the article to that effect.

  • nigel

    this sounds like dog shit

  • Chipton

    They’re just riding off of Seapunk’s coattails.

  • Chipton

    No silly, pseudo-snarky pretense, here; just a list of points to make…

    1) It’s really cool that you guys are trying to encourage technical ingenuity with musical creativity (which is what this article really should have been about, with the winner being showcased at the end, btw. Not this poorly-executed half-explanation of the winning concept.)

    2) Those samples sound nothing like the originals, a capella, instrumental or otherwise. The idea is a neat novelty concept, but… that’s entirely it.

    3) I’d like to offer my services as a writer. My qualifications are that I can put together concepts to make a point, I research my topics, and I already know plenty about chipmusic and other genres not particularly mainstream.

  • mr. mittens

    no. just no. do research.
    both covers sound nothing like the originals, by the way. it also seems you just use the same cookie-cutter lead and bass. if you would have taken 10 MINUTES to look around on youtube, you’d know that most instruments in chiptunes are unique to the song’s requirements.

    also, look up a little thing LSDJ patchbook.

    it’s programs like these and lazy people who don’t want to work hard at all that take a dump on good music.

  • little-scale

    the examples sound very poor.

    can you give more detail on the type of analysis performed, and the kind of data that is the product of the analysis?

  • Juan Manuel Larrazabal

    hahahahahaha everyone is so stupid… it’s sad.

  • Juan Manuel Larrazabal

    oh my god. writer, why do you exist?

  • Juan Manuel Larrazabal

    hhahahah your “update” was so… sad… you obviously have no grasp of.. not just chiptune.. but like.. anything! seriously man. you should probably write as if you know at least one percent of what you are writing about.

  • Juan Manuel Larrazabal

    “For the uninitiated, “books” are textual versions of hollywood movies that look as if they were made for steam powered printing presses from two centuries ago. A large underground community is dedicated to bookifying movies…” is basically the only response possible..