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SMD files are Final Fantasy Tactics's music files. Each SMD file holds one song.


The header consists of the following:

Width (bytes) Type Purpose
4 string SMD identifier (literal "smds")
4 ? Unknown
4 uint File size (in bytes)
8 ? Unknown
1 uint Number of channels
9 ? Unknown
2 uint Offset of filename
2 uint Offset of data chunk
2 uint Offset of channel N. The number of these will equal the number of channels read earlier.
2 uint End of offsets. (Should equal 0)
variable string Filename. This is a zero-terminated string.


SMD files contain a number of channels. Each channel contains a sequence of notes and instructions, and they're all played simultaneously. To play a 3-note chord, for example, you need to have 3 channels, and each channel plays one note of the chord. Typically, channel 0 doesn't contain notes, only special instructions like tempo settings. There is some evidence that notes placed in channel 0 will not play, so notes should probably go in channels 1 and higher.


Each instruction begins with an identifier byte and is followed by zero to 3 parameter bytes. The number of parameter bytes depends on the instruction.

Value (hex) Parameters (bytes) Purpose
0x00-0x7F 1 or 2 Play a note. 0x00 is the quietest and 0x7F is the loudest. The 1st parameter is the note's pitch and duration. (See the table below.) If the first parameter is divisible by 0x13 (19), then there will be a second parameter.
0x80 1 Rest. The parameter is the length of the rest, in 192nds of a note. A duration of 0xc0 (192) is equal to a whole note, 0x60 (96) is a half note, etc.
0x81 1 Extend previous note. The parameter is the length of the extension, in 192nds of a note.
0x90 0 End channel. Stops any more instructions from being read in this channel.
0x91 0 Loop remainder of channel indefinitely.
0x94 1 Set octave. The parameter is the octave. 0x03 is the 4th octave (the one with middle C).
0x95 0 Increment octave
0x96 0 Decrement octave
0x97 2 Set time signature, apparently. Not sure if this affects playback or is just informational. The 1st parameter is the top number, the 2nd is the bottom.
0x98 1 Begin loop. The parameter is the number of times to loop
0x99 0 End loop.
0x9c 3 ?
0xa0 1 Set tempo. 0x66 (102) is the most commonly-used tempo across all files, and it appears to be 120 bpm.
0xac 1 Set instrument. The parameter is the instrument number. For a full list, see: Instruments.
0xba 0 Begin channel. Always found at the beginning of a channel. Can also be used in the middle of a channel as a noop.
0xbf 0 ?
0xc0 0 ?
0xc2 1 Set attack rate. First parameter is the length of the attack. Higher values mean the note takes longer to fade in.
0xc3 1 ?
0xc4 1 ? Set sustain rate. First parameter is the length of time before fade-out. Higher values mean the note stays at full volume longer.
0xc5 1 ?
0xc6 1 ? Set sustain rate. Works differently than 0xc4.
0xc7 2 ? Something to do with note volume.
0xc8 1 ?
0xc9 1 ?
0xd2 1 ?
0xd7 1 ?
0xd8 3 Pitch shift. The 1st parameter is the speed, 2nd is the intensity (amount of pitch change), and 3rd is delay before pitch shift happens in each note.
0xda 0 ?
0xdb 0 ?
0xe0 1 Set volume. 0x00 is the quietest, 0x7f is the loudest.
0xe3 1 ?
0xe4 3 ?
0xe6 0 ?
0xe8 1 Set balance. 0x00 is left speaker, 0x7f is right speaker.


To play a note, use a note-playing instruction (00-7f) followed by a byte from the table below. If you use a custom note length (0x00, 0x13, 0x26, etc.), then you will need a second parameter specifying the note's length, in 192nds of a note (see explanation of Rests, above). This gives you more control over exactly how long the note lasts.

Note types (all values in hex)
C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
Custom 00 13 26 39 4c 5f 72 85 98 ab be d1
whole 01 14 27 3a 4d 60 73 86 99 ac bf d2
dotted half 02 15 28 3b 4e 61 74 87 9a ad c0 d3
half 03 16 29 3c 4f 62 75 88 9b ae c1 d4
dotted quarter 04 17 2a 3d 50 63 76 89 9c af c2 d5
3rd 05 18 2b 3e 51 64 77 8a 9d b0 c3 d6
quarter 06 19 2c 3f 52 65 78 8b 9e b1 c4 d7
dotted 8th 07 1a 2d 40 53 66 79 8c 9f b2 c5 d8
6th 08 1b 2e 41 54 67 7a 8d a0 b3 c6 d9
8th 09 1c 2f 42 55 68 7b 8e a1 b4 c7 da
dotted 16th 0a 1d 30 43 56 69 7c 8f a2 b5 c8 db
12th 0b 1e 31 44 57 6a 7d 90 a3 b6 c9 dc
16th 0c 1f 32 45 58 6b 7e 91 a4 b7 ca dd
dotted 32nd 0d 20 33 46 59 6c 7f 92 a5 b8 cb de
24th 0e 21 34 47 5a 6d 80 93 a6 b9 cc df
32nd 0f 22 35 48 5b 6e 81 94 a7 ba cd e0
48th 10 23 36 49 5c 6f 82 95 a8 bb ce e1
64th 11 24 37 4a 5d 70 83 96 a9 bc cf e2
96th 12 25 38 4b 5e 71 84 97 aa bd d0 e3


Thanks to P.J. Barnes for figuring out the structure of the file and a few commands.