Johannes Bjerregaard was a Danish jazz pianist, former programmer and computer game composer.
Bjerregaard grew up in Grenaa with his sister. His father used to be a choral director, his mother was a singer. He started piano lessons at age 6 and was found to have perfect pitch, but was not interested in classical music or further training. When his father acquired an album by Art Tatum, Bjerregaard, in his early teens, fell in exclusive love with jazz (even while he was a keyboardist in his heavy rock band Dragon in early 1988). In the 1990s, Bjerregaard attended Rhythmic Music Conservatory after all.
Bjerregaard's first computer was a Philips Odyssey² console. A few years later, he saw and wanted a Sinclair ZX81; instead, just before Christmas 1982, his father bought him a Commodore 64. His first played game was Crazy Kong; other favorites were Impossible Mission and Uridium (C64). In late 1985, Bjerregaard started making C64 music. Over the next year, he got his first contacts (either in the demoscene or at Danish company Kele Line) and was soon praised in Danish game magazines. In August 1988, he was in contact with the famous Maniacs of Noise, and in October, became their first non-founding member. By August 29, 1994, he was no longer interested in making computer music, but allowed Jens-Christian Huus to release his OPL2 demos.
For a living, Bjerregaard started out as a topographer in Copenhagen in 1988, with the help of his father. In spring 1996, he was programming at the National Survey. In 2000, he married a Texan and immigrated to Austin. He further moved to Lubbock in 2003 and programmed in Delphi at an insurance company. In 2009, he met vocalist Amber Pennington and married in 2014. Around 2010, he was discovered by Cactus Theater. In February 5, 2018, he started as a piano instructor. On August 2, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Thanks to both his C64 past and his Cactus present, over 200 fans donated over $20000 in under six weeks. Sadly, he lost the fight four years later.
Bjerregaard was always very self-critical and kept pointing out unnecessary imperfections or too obvious influences. Still, he appreciated preservation, fans, and remixes, and was glad to see many companies prioritize game soundtracks like movie soundtracks. In spring 1997, he answered HVSC that his surname is spelled with "aa" rather than "å". He wished to keep Danish citizenship, but considered dual citizenship when it became possible.
Bjerregaard's equipment included a Roland JX-3P synthesizer keyboard (sold to Huus), a Kawai M8000 MIDI keyboard, Dr. T's KCS, and a Roland U-110 rompler. A 1989 scene magazine quotes him as having programmed music drivers for the Amiga, Commodore 16, and planning to program one for a lent Amstrad CPC, although what happened to all that is unknown.
Bjerregaard had several C64s (all broken and thrown away in spring 1996). His arranging software evolved over the years:
- For The Vikings (C64), he ripped an early driver by David Whittaker and appended his own composition.
- For Tiger Mission (C64), he wrote his first own driver.
- From 1987 to 1988, he took Rob Hubbard's, gradually turned it into his second own driver (programmed in Profi-Ass 64), and arranged in his DMC Edit.
- At Maniacs of Noise, Charles Deenen gave him his music driver, Turbo Ass (which that driver was programmed in), and some 4-bit samples. Bjerregaard still used his own driver on Nightdawn (C64), but upon Deenen's request, he programmed a faster one in Turbo Ass (his third, tuned at 441 Hz except on Fruitbank (C64)). From thereon, Bjerregaard arranged by typing hexadecimal numbers.
Bjerregaard usually got around £200 to £400 per game and licensed his software to Henrik Jensen for 25%. In 1988 or 1989, he became friends and since shared sound programming knowledge with Jens-Christian Huus and Jesper Olsen. Huus witnessed Bjerregaard rearrange all sorts of radio hits on the C64 as an exercise, but also delete them soon after. His C64 influences and all-time favorites were Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway. He also liked Bionic Commando PAL (C64) and Fred Gray.
From March 1992 to August 21, 1993, he converted MID files from Roland to OPL2. He created instruments using his smf0ed software (in his INS and PAT formats). He further optimized these files by converting them to his MFP format (using smfpak). To the game developer, he gave the MID and MFP files, a file with sound effects in an unknown format, a file with his driver, and text instructions with example source code in Borland C++ 3.1.
His 1995 music is in the XMI format.
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,185208/ - MobyGames.
- facebook.com/johannes.bjerregaard - Facebook.
- youtube.com/user/jozzb - YouTube.
- youtube.com/channel/UCogGPKYb3sFdS3u2H9_7__w - YouTube.
- csdb.dk/release/?id=9619 - Commodore 64 disk interview from August 1989.
- zakalwe.fi/~shd/texts/imr/ca121jb.htm - Interview from spring 1996.
- amp.dascene.net/detail.php?view=3814&detail=interview - Interview from January 17, 2002.
- web.archive.org/web/20180928163808/http://www.lubbockonline.com/news/20180922/cactus-pianist-diagnosed-with-colon-cancer-must-be-treated-in-denmark - Biography from September 22, 2018.