How To Make Music Using N64 Sounds – Is It Possible?
The Nintendo 64 had unique hardware limitations that made music different. Want to learn how to make music with N64 sounds? Here’s a quick introduction to get you started.
The “iconic” sound of the N64 that most gamers remember is the result of compression and coding. The Nintendo 64 had no dedicated hardware for sound. This means that there is no way to emulate N64 music because everything is just code called “soundfont”.
The Sound font standard was developed by Emu Systems and their parent company, Creative Labs. It is a data format that contains all the information needed to create musical notes or sound effects using wavetable synthesis technology.
An N64 soundfont bank is a collection of these sounds in a standard format. The bank contains captures of digital audio samples from a sound source and instructions to the wavetable synthesizer on how to use those sounds as expressed by MIDI. You can experiment with creating your own sound fontsor search for them on the internet.
Once you have a collection of soundfonts ready, you will need some plugins for your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). The most popular plugin for working with soundfonts is called Sforzando. It is available for free download. You can use the plugin to manipulate the soundfonts you have or create your own.
This Hamburg producer made a techno album on an N64 cartridge
Producer Remute is Make music which can be played on these old school Nintendo 64 cartridges. That is, not just music made from N64 sounds, but music made to be played on those old cartridges. Remute, real name Denis Karimani, says the technology to create music this way wasn’t available until 2019. That year he produced Techoptimistic, an album made and displayed on a Sega Mega cartridge. Drive.
Remute says that most of the time he writes music on his PC or laptop using music tracking programs like Deflemask or OpenMPT. Then it converts the music to appropriate file formats for each console. With tracking programs, you don’t record musical elements like you would in DAWs. Instead, you enter a note, event, and various other sequence data into an interface and tell the soundchip with this script when and how to play a particular sound.
The result is that audio is generated in real time instead of just playing a static file over and over. The process was used for the Nintendo 64 format because Nintendo needed all of the console’s processing power for its graphics, leaving very little for audio.
Remute says their Nintendo 64 album consists of 8MB of data and has 15 tracks. It would look terrible if you were to compress a .wav or .mp3 of the same tracks into the same size. Remute says he worked with engineers in Sweden to design the PCB boards for his cartridge music.