Part 1, So You Want to Add Custom Music to Your Banjo-Kazooie Romhack

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Banjo-Kazooie has always been partially defined by its fascinating score. Some might regard one’s desire to inject their own tunes as blasphemous; a blight on one’s gamer score. To this, I ask how credible is the accusing party if they’re aren’t ready to take on the Bourgeoisie?

No matter your reasoning, rom hacks are dope so let’s just do the damn thing.

Writing music to import into BK can be super easy as long as you know what kind of parameters you’re working in. First off, N64 midis are limited to 16-channels. You can assign any instrument within the game’s soundfont to them and they can even play most notes on a 0-127 scale with some exceptions.

Also, lot of games, including BK, utilize in-level zoning to determine what channels play where. If you’re underwater, one or two harps channels will slip into your ear synced perfectly with the channels previously playing. We as composers have to account for this when determining what channels play what. Thankfully, using the midi editing tools, we’ll be able to work around all these limitation and come up with genius sounding solutions to all of these situation.

Before we begin, I’m going to assume that you didn’t come here for compositional theory and that you have an existing MIDI file that you want to put in the game. If you’ve never composed music or worked in a digital audio workstation (or, DAW) before, I would recommend you spend a little extra time experimenting with the piano roll and different instruments when we get to them.

Go play Banjo-Dreamie, if you haven’t already. It’s great!

First off, this tutorial requires you to download and install quite a bit of software. Thankfully it’s all free! Below is a link to everything you’ll need. I advise downloading and installing it before starting the tutorial.

  1. Sekaiju, the DAW we’ll be using to edit our midis
  2. Banjo’s Backpack, the tool used to install mods to our BK rom
  3. N64 Tools, click the ‘Clone or download’ button then select ‘Download ZIP’
  4. BK_Soundfont.ins for correcting the names to each BK instrument in Sekaiju
  5. Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 SP1, this is the the only service package that the N64 Tools can use to launch
  6. CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth, this acts as our buffer between Sekaiju and the BK soundfont
  7. Viena, it’ll be the third option down. Used to convert .dls soundfonts to .sf2
  8. Project 64 1.6, the emulator we’ll be using to launch Banjo-Kazooie
  9. A rom of Banjo-Kazooie. If you’re cool, you already have one but here’s a student copy
  10. That sweet, sweet midi file you want to hear in-game

Oh sheesh, are you ready to start this forreal? Nice, but are you working in a clean environment too? Even Mumbo knows that a clean desk leads to clean work.

All set? Let’s move forward!

Part 2, Setting Up Our Tools For An Efficient, MIDI Editing Environment

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7