AUGUST 17, 2018

Jay Terrien: Orchestrating for Strings with Sibelius Ultimate


Jay Terrien has written, arranged and performed music for strings for just about every situation you can imagine—for live performance, television, film scores, tours, and albums with artists like Stevie Wonder, Andy Grammer, Moby (on The Tonight Show), Rihanna and Drake (at the NBA All-Star Game), and countless others.

Recently, Terrien led a string session at world-famous East West Studios in Hollywood. His A-List string team was tracking string parts for Atlantic Records artist Christina Perri’s new song Tiny Victories.


Jay (fourth from left) with the A-List string team

“I’m a string player—I play bass guitar and viola, and I come from a place of professionalism, because there are high expectations in this business. You have to do a lot of things, do them fast, and do them well.”

When he receives music for performance or production, the first step Jay takes is to get the notation files. "I use Sibelius 100% of the time. I work with A-list players in the ensemble, and before I put music in front of them, I need to make sure they’re not a mess."

The music business is rapidly changing. It isn’t a straightforward career for anyone, but you have to have something that is consistent so you can be as good as you can be. In the end, I want to just make music and play.

Jay Terrien, Violist, Composer, Arranger

Jay describes seeing a lot of music that needs some work, before it can be performed, and there is never a lot of time to arrange and make it playable.


Jay (third from left) in the Andy Grammer video: The Heavy And The Slow

That's why Sibelius is essential to Jay's work. "I use Sibelius to work out bowings, and add markings, notes, and dynamics. Notated properly, everything sounds better."

He's seen some interesting music scores while playing professionally, as well as interesting problems. Sometimes a score is sent where the parts are in different keys, or adapted for other instruments, or orchestrated incorrectly for his instrument. "My viola can never go below low C. And viola music is in C, or alto clef. I've been handed music in treble clef, or a B-flat trumpet part. I can transpose on the fly but in Sibelius it takes ten seconds to change the clef.”


Jay Terrien (far right) on stage with Rihanna at the NBA All-Star Game

The quickness of Sibelius matters when I need to share the music with a group, and when we need to get up to speed quickly for a performance or session.

Jay Terrien, Violist, Composer, Arranger

Jay was first introduced to Sibelius when he sent in a registration for Sibelius 4. “It was 2004, and I still have the box. The first thing I did was start composing, and within two hours I could finish a tune.” He found the ease of use with Sibelius gave him a jump start on music creation for his own work as well as arrangements for concerts and recording sessions.



As an arranger and music director I need to save that time. I want to give my players the music as far ahead of time as possible.

Jay Terrien, Violist, Composer, Arranger

“In terms of Sibelius' features that save me more time, I love to edit my music and draw in magnetic slurs over certain phrases, where the whole string ensemble moves together to a cadence point. This allows my string section to be tighter, with both bowing directions, as well as breathing in, and out of phrases.”

Check out Jay Terrien performing with orchestra in the 2019 Infiniti QX50 car commercial promoting the new Avengers: Infinity War movie:


Jay Terrien (bottom-center)—performs in orchestral violin trio for the Infinity QX50 car commercial

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