Ask Your Questions...
“I look forward to your questions.”
E-mail (will not be published) (required)
E-Mail (will not be published) (required)
Post notification to my Wall
Thank you for your answer.
I appreciated you and your music and I very enjoyed that you back to Toto.
Toto was the best with six members-and your person off course!
I’m happy with your sing a new song!
It’ wonderful news for me and all fans of Toto.
A couple days ago first time I saw “DUNE” movie-
fantastic,music I know off course.
I hope that you make next good movie-soundtrack.
And I would too see Toto in Poland again
You have a good time in Japan.
Best wishes and take care.
Robert and my family
Hey Steve, getting my tix for Tampa/Clearwater show tomorrow… Haven’t seen Toto since 1984. Looking forward to it. Really nice that you communicate here. Who was your biggest influence musically? Best Regards, Joey D.
Tons of influences. Before 1964, it was what was playing in our household. Mostly cool jazz, some big band stuff some classical. Dad’s music. Then we saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. That was our music. Later it was a lot of R&B, I always loved good pop music. In high school it was all Edgar Winter and Emerson Lake and Palmer and Yes. Lot’s of Steely Dan, Elton John (amazing Paul Buckmaster string arrangements really cranked in the mix)
Some of my biggest influences aren’t heard in my music so much. go figure. See you at the Tampa/Clearwater show and thanks..
I was wondering if Takin it Back will be on the setlist this time around? I hope you guys have a blast playing over in Japan!! I’m still keeping my fingers crossed you guys will play in Pennsylvania during the US tour, All the Best to you and the rest of the band. Katelynn
Looks like we’re playing the Keswick Theatre in Glenside PA on the 4th of September. Hopefully you can make it. Thanks for the kind wishes.
This is Robert from Polska again.
I saw official video from youtube with our polish concert in ?ÓD?-”HOLD THE LINE”-amazing!
DVD too soon-wow!
I have a question-
you sing wonderful songs TOTO-”TAKIN’IT BACK” and “IT”S A FEELING”,I wish that on a new album TOTO you will be singing song!
Maybe do it?
In Poland “It’s a Feeling” sing Joseph.
His version was ok,off course,
but I like your version.
Best wishes from Bydgoszcz-Poland
Robert Jagodzinski and my family
Yes! I am singing a song on the new Toto album. We just cut the track on a song I wrote with Alee Willis called “The Little Things”. I sometimes like my voice too, but I’m a very weak singer, and singing live would be very embarrassing for all of us. It’s just a studio thing for me I’m afraid. Believe me, I’d love to sing my songs live to all the pretty girls out there but alas . . . . Thanks for your encouragement and take care.
Hey Steve, Big fan for a long time. As a fellow pianist you undoubtedly have your own sound when i have heard you play solo piano. What are the “Steve Porcaro ” chords you use.. and how do you suggest nurturing ones own sound.
And also, the piece your playing in the video advertising this site is beautiful.. any chance you could play some more of it for me! thanks !! Zak
ZAK !! Great question(s). The chords I use are the ones that I love hearing. I don’t have what you might call a “huge” ear. I never play “Jazz” chords as such. (I’m talking about altered 9th, 11th and 13th chords). I love them and I love hearing them in other peoples music, I just never hear them in mine.
What I love is suspensions. The kind you find in classical music. The most basic example would be Csus4. Just as common for me is what Steely Dan once called a mu major. I bought a book of their music once that was very accurate, and in the introduction they instructed that whenever you see a major chord symbol, say ‘C’, do not play C,E,G — instead play C,D,G (a suspension). This was like, in 1973 and I’ve been playing most (not all) of my major chords like that ever since. I’ve really try to use tons of suspensions. Not only because I love the sound, it’s the emotion they give me that really helps me convey what I’m feeling. Now . . as far as nurturing your own sound. It’s the most important thing you are ever going to do in your musical life as far as I’m concerned. THE most important if you want to be an artist. I don’t care if you spend 12 hours a day practicing and studying Art Tatum solos, and you get really good at it.
If that’s all you do, I’m sorry, but your just going to be a watered down version of Art Tatum. Study ALL of your influences,(hopefully there are many), and take and learn your favorite bits, motifs, voicings, sounds, riffs whatever and then start combining them in a way only YOU can. No one has your fingerprint or your exact taste in music. Make your music your own and nurture THAT. Really work on making it your own and developing your own sound. Develop and collect your own hot licks, chords and sounds. I gated a Farfisa organ on the record “Dirty Laundry” by Don Henley and thought that was cool until I heard “Crazy” by Seal and heard Mark Mancina gating an organ, but with a wah wah pedal slowly moving. It blew my mind. So much so, that doing that (which can be a time consuming set-up) is one of my hot licks that I can get going in a heartbeat.
I’ve told this story before: when I was coming up behind my brothers, they were leaving high school and going straight into careers as studio musicians. As I was in my senior year in high school, I started looking ahead as to who my competition was going to be . . David Paich, David Foster, Michael Omartian, Billy Payne, Jai Winding; the list goes on and on. There was no way that producers were going to hire me over these guys. I was no where near them. I had always loved organs with all the bells and whistles and was always dying to get my hands on a synthesizers, and I saw this chasm between guys who knew a lot about synths (only nerds in those days) and the best players who wanted nothing to do with the technical aspect. I saw this huge opening and I dove in and began working with most of the players I mentioned, programming for them and eventually getting called on my own.
This is something I have to constantly remind myself of. When I first started writing for film, with the help of my friend James Newton Howard. I started off trying desperately to emulate him; I loved his work and only wound up sounding like a watered down version of James. The more I keep it “me” the better it seems everyone likes what I do. Hope some of this helps.
The guys here at Musinq are working on a way that we can exchange files on this site. I would love to play more of the piece you are referring to.
Hopefully soon. Thanks for your interest Zak
I just wanted to tell you how amazing your work is. I’ve listened to numerous songs you have played over the years, but my absolute favorite is from 1976 when you played with Boz Scaggs and did that killer solo on “Lido Shuffle”. The sound and sync with the band was dead on. Amazing performance! I find myself listening to that version of “Lido Shuffle” at least once a week and have for the past 10 years! You just can’t find another version of that song like that one!
Take care Steve! All the best!
Thanks so much for the kind words. That was an amazing time. I was so lucky to be a part of it. Thanks again and take care.
Hi Steve, my name is Yasmin Kakkar and a friend and I are making a documentary for a nonprofit charity. We recently came across the song you and John Bettis composed for Michael Jackson, titled Human Nature. The song fits perfectly within our film, but due to copyright issues we may not be able to put in in. This is why we are asking your permission for rights to put the song in our documentary. Your help with this would be greatly appreciated!
Unfortunately, I no longer control the rights to Human Nature. If I did, I would say YES in a heartbeat. Sony/ATV owns the Human Nature copyright.I wish I could be more help. Good luck.
The Toto tour with Michael Mcdonald: Will it be you guys on stage together? Or you guys or him the opener? On the Caesars site it says “Michael Macdonald”, and it should say TOTO! ( ;
Let me know. Always great to hear from you!
At this point, it’s a little fuzzy. I think they’re saying that we’re “co-headlining”.. I think for the most part, we’ll be opening for Michael. We did several gigs that way last year and it went great. We share a lot of the same audience, so we had a great time. We’re just thrilled to be playing the states to tell you the truth. Take care, and see you at Caesar’s.
Steve, thank you so much for you response…I am truly honored. I mean like, WOW! I just wanted to say thank you to you and the Porcaro Family for creating and performing some of the most important music of our time. Your music touched the world and has made people everywhere feel much better about their own lives.
No matter what genre or era – its still the same 12
notes for composition. But you and your brothers took
those notes and created music that’s timeless. Its
truly the gift that keeps on giving for generations. Thank you, thank you….THANK YOU, STEVE!
Thank YOU Troy.
Hi Steve, it would be wonderful if Toto could come in Croatia! Anyway want you luck with the new album
I would love to come to Croatia! I’m sure the guys would too. Hopefully, we’ll see you one of these days soon. Thanks, the album is coming out great. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
Steve, it is an honor to connect with you, your one of the most talented and gifted innovators the world has ever known. The question I had was with regard to your time supporting Gary Wright during his tours in 1977 and beyond. For “My Love is Alive”, the moog bass lines you are playing are so incredible funky, your making that moog talk! Back then you didn’t have a lot of the technology that we have today to stabilize and control the physics of sound. Did you maintain those moogs and do all the programming of patches yourself for those tunes or did Gary?
Thank you for your kind words. I’m suddenly feeling humbled.
Yeah, Gary days . . . The Moog I used for the bass part on “Love Is Alive” is the first synth I ever owned. My brother Mike loaned me the money when I got the gig with Gary to pay for it along with an Oberheim DS-2 Sequencer, and an Oberheim SEM.
What was tough about the older analog stuff wasn’t just keeping them in tune. Each oscillator had an offset and scale adjustment that was incredibly sensitive and unstable back then. Basically, it was this tweak that scaled the oscillators to be in tune up and down the keyboard at a different octaves. I did do some of those tweaks myself, but would always try not to. . . As much as it was a pain, these flaws did contribute to it’s amazing sound. The patches, or programming of the sounds was all me as far as the live stuff went. There was no way to save anything on the Mini Moog. I was trying to copy the cool sounds that were on the record. I remember the friend I bought the Moog from, Jay Chernik was teaching me where to set the knobs to come close to the sound on the record. I marked them down with tape. Some knobs like “attack” and “decay” are obvious, but “amount of contour”??? Take care
Hey Steve. He is playing bass on your new album now that Nathan East has left? I know Tal Wilkenfeld has played on it but just wondering who else is?
Yes, Tal has played on a couple things. To tell you the truth though, between you and me . . . . I think they’re making it up as they go along.
Are you planing to have a concert in the Balkan region? And if you are when?
Unfortunately no, I know of no plans for the time being to have a concert in the Balkan region but I wish we would. I hear from a lot fans from there. Hopefully very soon.
Hi steve,i’m big fan of you and also fan of Toto.I’m listening toto since i was 5,now im 15.Bless you all guys!
And i wanted to ask you if you are coming with Toto in serbia,macedonia or bulgaria this summer….
Thanks for your reply.
Thanks for your kind words. Unfortunately, at this time, there are no plans for Serbia, Macedonia, or Bulgaria this summer, but hopefully in the near future. Take care
I have some questions about the touring members of Toto through history. In the beginning you always had an extra percussionist. Then you added various guys on saxophone and other wind instruments. Nowadays you “just” have extra backup singers.
What factors did you consider back then and now when you chose what kind of touring members you wanted? Is saxophone for example too much associated with the 80′s sound to be considered today? Or is it just a qustion of a limited budget?
If you could choose freely with no limits whatsoever how does your dream touring lineup look regarding players and/or instruments?
Regards Johan from Sweden
Good question. On Toto albums, we’ve used anything and everything to try to make the best possible record, including the London Symphony, Tom Scott and Jerry Hey horn arrangements, you name it. Especially in the earlier days.
We always try to pull off the record as close as possible and would love to bring an orchestra everywhere we go but . . .
It’s Sune – from Denmark/Copenhagen – and Porcaro & Paich Fan Club.
I was VERY happy to see the answer you wrote to Christy: you @ vocals at the upcoming TOTO album. ‘The little things’… Can you say what kind of style? Or secret?
Also wanna ask you how the solo album is going? Any dates? We’re SO many fans that hope for several Steve P vocal tracks @ that one. I know how you feel with own voice. But…. You promised me/us a ‘Takin’ it back 2014′ LOL. And that requieres YOU (and Hungate & Shannon F)
I’d gladly help listening – like you said earlier, if u need any help. Would be an honor…. My mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again for + 35 y of endless inspiration. All you Porcaros are my biggest heroes & influence. Even Jeff as much as you and Mike
See ya in Denmark @ tour – cannot wait!
It’s typical me. Mid tempo ballad. What else were you expecting? With my Justified responsibilities, Toto’s new album, and preparing for the upcoming Japanese tour hasn’t left me with much time for my solo project. Scoring Justified pretty much eats up my week while I work on it. It’s very important to me and I work on it every chance I get. You and I will talk soon. Take care, sp
Can you tell us about the keyboards you will be using in the live shows?
The keys will be the same as the last couple tours. Yamaha Motif XF-8 on the bottom and Yamaha Motif XF-7. I’m also running Mainstage on a Mac laptop that holds the majority of my sounds. Ciao
I saw you several times live in The Netherlands with Toto the last few years, and It seemed to me that you really enjoyed beeing back on stage playing with this amazing band. With you, the real Toto sound is back!
Are you already involved in the new Toto record, did you already record some keys, and is there any chance for a Steve Porcaro song on the new album?
Many thanks for taking time for a reply! So glad you’re back with Toto, studio and live.
Your very perceptive. I am having fun playing with the guys again. It’s like “Hot Tub Time Machine” for me. I’ve been able to re-live 1983 for the past 5 summers. I am working with the guys on the new Toto album as well as working on my own project. There should be a lot coming your way. Thanks for your interest and your kind words.
This website is such amazing thing!
I wanted to ask you, since i’m studying to being a composer (i’m guitar player) in your composing/production phase from which part do you start ?
Harmony then Melody,
Melody then Armony,
Rhythm and Bass line.
Thanks for you reply.
hugs from Italy
Welcome to Musinq!! I love your kind of question. I wish I had a better answer. The truth is, it’s always different depending on the situation, but there are definitely go-to starting places I’ve acquired over the years. Writing to film can be very different than writing songs, but for me, whether it’s a song, or a cue, I try to establish an atmosphere that is distinct. With film, my intention is to always serve the picture no matter what. With songs, I have more freedom.
Sometimes it starts with a tempo I get in my head. What’s always been the case but happens now more than ever is with the constant influx of new sounds and sample libraries and the amazing programming going on these days, just a sound can totally be the jumping off point. Often when I’m looking for a sound for something I’m urgently working on , I come across something cool that has nothing to do with what I’m working on but I start jamming with it and writing something I dig and stop everything to record it somehow. It’s often difficult to pick up where I left off. I do have fun though. Sometimes it’s the drums and bass groove that are the starting point. Many times it starts off with just me pounding out chords on the piano and trying to capture a mood whether it’s a cue or a song, while I sing a melody on top. Or I do a lot of finger-picking guitar parts on plucky keyboard sounds. I could go on. I hope some of that helps
Thanks so much for your reply, it has helped me alot.
Is a pleasure to see this kind of approach from a great musician like you.
I will be inspired by the moment and will try any sounds, grooves or chords progression i can find , then i’ll come with a nice melody to put in.
Have a nice work w/ Toto and w/ all your next projects.
Hi Steve! I’m a fan and member of the Porcaro/Paich group. I understand you are working on a solo album? Wow!! I think you have such an amazing voice and talent and wish there were more lead vocals of you on the Toto albums. Takin’ it Back and the Human Nature Demo are incredible!!! When can we expect a release date and can you tell us anything about it?
I was also thrilled to learn a few days ago you are going to be on the new Toto album! I’m anxious for both of these releases.
Thanks for your kind words. I like my voice too . . . kind of sometimes. It is excruciating for me to do finished vocals. It’s very difficult for me. I’ve never really taken care of my voice and it takes me a loooong time to get a finished vocal. Not only that, but my range is incredibly limited. As a songwriter, I don’t want to limit myself to have to write just what I can sing. I’m personally much more interested in my songwriting than I am in my singing. Having said that, I will have a vocal on the new Toto album. The guys just heard a song a wrote with Alee Willis called “The Little Things” that looks like I might be singing on the next Toto CD.
In my spare time, which isn’t much these days, I’m working on my own project that will probably have a few lead vocals by myself. Thanks for your interest. There’s cool stuff coming.
Hey Steve! Big fan of your playing! You always added such a creative, virtuosic element to the music of Toto. I deeply appreciate what you do, and you’re a smart cat, too! What I wanted to ask: Will you be coming to Toronto anytime soon with Toto? I would be forever grateful if you guys did! I’m 20 and have been into the music of Toto for a few years now.
Thanks a million,
Thanks for the kind words. Not Toronto but sort of close. August 29th we’re in Windsor Ontario. Is that close? Also some upstate New York around then.
I love the music in Justified. I am a Kentucky native and love what you have done to really enhance the show with your music. I have not been able to find a song though that I would love to purchase and maybe you could help? It is the song in Season 2 episode 9 where Coover snorts a pill off of his bandaged hand and heads towards the party. I cant wait for some of your tunes to be available for purchase!
A native Kentukean? (sp?) High praise indeed, thanks. I know exactly which cue you’re talking about because I loved it to. I would love to take credit for it, but that one was written by Marc Bonilla who does all the guitars for me on Justified. He also writes a few cues each week and that was one of them. I thought he really nailed it. There is a Justified Score Soundtrack CD coming out soon, but that cut isn’t on it unfortunately. The fine people here at Musinq are putting together a mailbox that we can send and receive stuff in. When they get that together, send me another note and I’ll sneak you an mp3 of that cue. Don’t tell anybody.
Love all your work with Toto and your various session work on the countless songs you have worked on, my question is what are the fundamental things or processes your do when working on a session with an artist?
The main thing is to always serve the song. Sometimes when you start trying different parts and sounds on a record, you can fall into a sound or a part that you think is great, and you start developing it, and it sounds great and it feels great, and you take the next step and expand it and sometimes, after you have fallen in love with your sound and what you played, you realize at a certain point that it took on a life of it’s own and you served that, your wonderful idea, instead of the song. I’ve written a part that steps right on the vocal melody or another part while blindly following my wonderful idea. Point I’m making is you have to keep checking yourself along the way and make sure you’re always serving the song. It starts there. With all the stuff we got, the possibilities are endless as are the processes. Hope this helps.
Yes I understand Steve and thank you for your advice you and your brothers are legends in the business so I have been soaking up whatever advice you have been giving to others on here as well as what you have said to my question, so thanks again and look forward to your next solo project,session works or new ToTo material.
Hello there Steve,
Im Santts, 27, from Brazil! Im a singer piano player! Just released my first album!
Ive influenced a lot fom the soul, R&B, reggae, and Brazilian music, as a young musician and being lucky enough to be in touch with guys like… I was wondering if I could leave a link to one of my videos? its me on the Piano, and my fellow friends, a rock/R&B version!
Id be thankfull if I could hear ur thoughts on it, I sent one of those links to Natan East(Bass player whos plaied with you guys), a while ago! I heard some good feedback, this is the newest videos, with the best audio and image quality I could show,
Looking forward to hear from you sir,
All the best,
Santts video > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQWkOg4-Yyg
I think these guys here at Musinq are going to provide us with a way to send and receive files, but we’re not there yet. Even then I’m afraid I don’t have time to listen to everything I’m sent. Take care and good luck with everything.
All right Steve,
I apreciate you answering, hope they do! Id like to someday hear from you!
can you give advice to keyboard players on how to learn elaborate arrangements by ear? I mean not the main piano or organ parts, but the parts that are more buried in the mix. The synth “contrapoint” above the unisono in ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’ is only one example. Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Toto music is full of those. Also recreating the patch is hard when I have no clue how it was made.
My other question is how to get new ideas for arrangements. The subtle stuff you’re renowned for Especially when the song itself is a work in progress, and it begs for some clever instrumentation to keep it going and developing.
Thanks for this amazing opportunity here!
You must first develop your ear to learn elaborate arrangements by ear. Some people are just born with it. Certainly not me. My ear is not very developed, I’m ashamed to say. It’s difficult for me sometimes to transcribe what I hear on a record. Those “contra point” lines you’re talking about are often improvised while I play the track over and over, until something sticks. Yes recreating the patch is hard when you have no clue how it was made. As you develop your ear and your synth know-how, you’ll get better and better at it.
I get new ideas for arrangements from the new songs I work on. Also, I like to listen to what’s played on the radio and try to keep my stuff fresh and influenced by what’s new, without chasing after any fashion. I just let it influence me.
THE most important thing, is for it to serve the song first, but then sound like me and no one else whenever I can.
Long-time fan and follower of your work, and very glad to see you back in the Toto fold.
Can you share your thoughts on the “Human Nature” compositional process, and second; your process for constructing the synth solo sections on Rosanna, Pamela, and the bridge solo section on Carmen? The synth colors, contrasting/intersecting lines, note choices and expression are pure brilliance!
Thank you for taking the time to answer questions and particularly for the many years of musical pleasure, inspiration and talents you and your family shared with fans and fellow musicians. Looking forward to hearing more of your work in the future and wish you continued success.
Thanks for the kind words.
The Human Nature compositional process started with pure inspiration; My young daughter having a bad day at school and asking me why people act mean sometimes; I wrote the gist of the song about an hour later on the piano out in the cutting room at Record One, while the rest of the band was in the control room with Greg Ladanyi mixing the song “Africa”; I began demoing it on a 4 track cassette in a hotel rooms on the road with Toto soon after; Quincy Jones at one point asked to see the verse lyrics (the demo was very rough and you can hear what he first heard if you Google “Human Nature Demo”) They were terrible and he asked if a guy named John Bettis could take a stab at the verses. I said sure and John turned my tune into a song.
On constructing the synth sections, I just try to go for it, use the technology in a musical way and show everybody why I’ve spent the time I have with all of that stuff. (Because of the possibilities!!) Sometimes you reach too far, but since I was never a “player” the way the other guys are, I’ve always have been eager to show what it is I do, do. (no snickering) Using the studio as your ax. Combining the right blend of musical know-how, with really cool synth stuff.
Thanks again Mike for your kind words and yes, there is more music from me your way.
Hi Steve! I enjoy the show Justified and I know that you do the scores for it. I was wondering if those scores will be available for purchase or listening somewhere. I especially like the one where Raylan looks at his family graves, it also plays when Boyd visits the house he and Ava were going to buy but she was arrested. That score is outstanding and I would to be able to listen to it at any ole time.
Yes Maxwell, a Justified score album should be coming out soon. They haven’t given me a date yet but it does have the cue you’re referring to. Thanks for your interest and thanks for your kind words.
this is Robert,
thanks for you nice answer.
I send you on a facebook three photos from concert in Poland.
Best wishes and health.
Thank you Robert.
Thanks! What continues to motivate your music making?
The love of it and the bills.
Ask Davey Johnstone a Question
Ask Steve Porcaro a Question
Ask Denny Seiwell a Question
Ask Leland Sklar a Question
Ask Lenny Castro a Question
Robert on Ask Steve Porcaro a Question
34 hours ago
Leland on Ask Leland Sklar a Question
2 days ago
RJ Fuentes on Ask Leland Sklar a Question
2 days ago
Leland on Ask Leland Sklar a Question
5 days ago
Copyright © 2011-2014 Musinq, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form