About BowLord

A Little History

Born in Hamilton, ON, Canada, John grew up as part of a family that listened to music. Everything from musicals to popular music and the classics were played in the home.

As he entered high school, he taught himself to play the guitar, and soon had a position teaching at a local music lesson establishment. This meant that he had to teach himself some music theory in order to teach his students - some of whom were learning advanced reading and music theory.

Although he never took music in High School, he was able to convince the music teacher to let him join the school orchestra. By the time he graduated, he was teaching for the Ontario Conservatory of Music at three of their locations, teaching both guitar and drums.

It was through meeting other teachers at the Conservatory that John was able to earn extra money by playing in a few bands. At the time, bands were commonly hired for weddings, banquets, yearly meetings and much more. He quickly learned to play a wide range of music styles, from polka to popular to jazz and ballads. Although he could read music, he preferred to rely on his ear to follow the other musicians until he knew the material.

In the 1970s, when the demand for live music began to evaporate, John focused his attention on writing and recording his own material. But tape was still the medium of choice and it was difficult to get professional results at first.

Finally, digital recording became the norm, and John focused his attention on MIDI, the use of electronic keyboards to control sounds and other elements in a computer. Today, his favorite sounds are the violin and cello, as he continues to develop original music under a wide range of genres, and focusing mostly on orchestral sounds.

Some important milestones

  • 1958 - 1968 Early Years

    Hungry to create, a young boy would make a primitive guitar from a tissue box, an eraser, and several elastics, or discover that the dowels on the kitchen chairs were 'tuned' to various notes. On the occasions when he would be around a piano or organ, he would discover a world of magic. His family home was a place of song, with records of all styles being played often.

    John at eleven years of age
  • 1966 - 1969 High School Years

    Although his parents discouraged him from taking music in high school, John was still able to convince the music teacher to allow him to join the school orchestra - playing electric guitar! He relied on his ear and learned to follow the notes, reading mostly single note passages for clarinet or flute.

    He also formed a number of bands at the time, and created original songs for the band to play in addition to cover songs.
    John (far left) in one of his first bands, 'AXE'.
  • 1970 - 1975 Early Music Employment

    Still in high school, John learned that a music store was looking for a guitar teacher, so he applied. He was hired, yet had no background or training in music theory, which was a part of what he had to teach. So he hit the books and taught himself a lot of the necessities, then proceeded to teach three grades of guitar. Upon graduating, he found employment as a teacher of two instruments at the Ontario Conservatory of Music, teaching at three of their locations on a full-time basis.

    Around this time, he also began to work as a freelance musician, filling in for three bands and working every Friday and Saturday night, playing a wide range of music styles on guitar.

    The Ontario Conservatory of Music
  • 1976 - 1995 Early Composition and Recording

    John began to imagine music in his head, and obtained a drum box, a casio keyboard and a bass guitar. Starting with a cheap tape recorder, he moved up to a four track Tascam 'Porta Studio' and then to better tape-based equipment. During this time, he gave private music lessons, mostly on guitar.
    When realizing that the Portastudio only gave him 4 tracks, he'd mix down the first three onto the 4th, then the first two new tracks onto the third, then have the first two free again, providing the sound of seven tracks, layered to create songs using guitars, drums, bass and keyboards.
    A Tascam 'Portastudio' early multi-track recorder
  • 1996 - 1998 Sound Awake Studios

    When an opportunity arose to assist a video producer by providing sound recording, John created 'Sound Awake' studios at their location in Ottawa, ON, and entered the world of digital recording. The location was short lived though, as the video company had financial troubles and the facility was suddenly closed.

    Despite the small time that Sound Awake operated, he was able to provide recording and compositional work for Nortel, and the Conference Board of Canada, among many others.

    The former Sound Awake studio control room in Ottawa
  • 1999 - 2005 Working Musician

    Over the next years, he played guitar, keyboards or bass in various bands, filling in for missing musicians, or being called upon if a band needed to be enlarged for a special gig. One of the bands featured Gary Lalonde on bass, the bassist of the Canadian band, 'Honeymoon Suite'. John's keen ear allowed him to play most of the material without a rehearsal and he was soon in demand as a freelance musician. He also continued to compose original music, being inspired by both classical and hard rock.

    John Lister and Gary Lalonde in 2005
  • 2006 - 2010 Fingerman Studios

    With technology advancing so much, it finally became feasable to build a home studio that would provide professional results. Fingerman Studios was born, and moved several times whevever he changed his location. The studio still operates, and this is where current recordings are made. Equipment and software have always been upgraded as technology continues to improve.

    The first Fingerman Studios location in Cornwall, ON
  • 2011 - 2017 Other Musicians

    Thanks to his abilities to quickly fit in with bands with little effort, John's ear was developed as was his knowledge of different musical styles. On one such occasion, he had the opportunity to play with two of the world's best, Christophe Sarret, former music director of France's Nouvelle Star, and Grammy winner Joel Derouin, who has been violinist and concertmaster for Barbra Streisand, No Doubt, The Stone Temple Pilots, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Alanis Morrisette, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Vanessa Carlton, and Paul McCartney, to name just a few.

    John Lister, Joel Derouin and Christophe Sarret
  • 2018 - Today Composer/Producer

    Today John spends the majority of his studio time composing and producing orchestral music. He continues to improve both his compositional skills, his musicianship, and his production abilities, with the goal of providing the very best music suitable for movie soundtracks, trailers, and videos.

    The studio has been vastly upgraded with a gradual shift away from analog equipment to digital, providing a much cleaner and authentic sound regardless of musical genre being produced.
    John Lister (BowLord) at the keyboard



April, 2022

Currently in Post-Production by 3Angels Power Film Production Inc.

Always ready to create the right music


Years teaching music


Years operating a studio


Years of musical experience


Years composing original music

Professional Development

Over the years, BowLord has maintained the latest in recording equipment and musical instruments.

He has an original ADAT, one of the first digital 8-Track recording machines, but has long since switched to the common practice of hard-drive recording of digital content.

No longer relying on sounds found onboard keyboards and sound modules, he now downloads more professional sounds that include many international orchestras and unique classical instruments.

BowLord has also learned many new techniques available to control these sounds, such as using the pitch wheel and expression wheel to change parameters of sounds, such as the intensity of a bow on the strings of a cello. The velocity in which notes are played on the keyboard also translates to real aspects of cello or violin playing. (or any instrument that is being emulated)

These parameters enable the performance to sound very much like an actual cello being played.

As for the sounds themselves, most come from digitally recorded notes, not synthesized ones. A violinist might play an 'E' in many different ways, so that when the same note is repeated on the keyboard, each one has a slightly different tone, just as a real instrument would. What's more, the souce of these sounds are often of very high quality. For example, our violin and cello notes come from actual Stradivarius instruments crafted in 1700 and recorded in Italy. Outside the studio, they even stopped the traffic during the recording process while these instruments were being played.

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