Beyond the Metronome:
Becoming an Inchronous Musician

Here are some articles, book reviews, and videos that may inspire you to go a little deeper into your Inchronous sense. 

Click to download your Beyond the Metronome click tracks via Dropbox!



Links to some of our favorite sites.

March 2012 


What your book offers is a fresh approach to a topic we all need to heed in these modern times. Peter Erskine’s book “Time Awareness for All Musicians,” sets the stage with a wealth of sage advice that is priceless coming from his untouchable experience and perspective; My book offers a method using creative applications of subdivision, which is the foundation of good timekeeping, and your book offers not only great advice on working w/clicks, but tools for moving beyond that skill in search of (and preaching the true value of) "the well placed note.” These are skills that today’s drummers - and musicians in general, really need to know, beyond fundamental rudiments, beats & licks. As someone who took the leap of faith in my own work to take out a home-equity mortgage to self publish my book, I couldn’t be happier for you. You have added something of timeless value to the lexicon of drumming & music. To see a work like yours (in a world where, with today’s technology, there is an over-abundance of information) stand out is an accomplishment you have every right to be pumped about. Well done!!

 - Dave Stanoch
Drummer, Clinician, Educator, & Author of award winning book 'Mastering the Table of Time'


Percussive Notes: Journal of the Percussive Arts Society, November 2011
 “Reprinted by permission of the Percussive Arts Society, Inc., 110 W. Washington Street, Suite A, Indianapolis, IN 46204; E-mail:; Web:

Beyond the Metronome I-VI (e.g. all levels)
Malcolm “Mac” Santiago

We percussionists, perhaps more than other instrumentalists, appreciate the value of the
metronome. Many of us have spent countless hours practicing with the relentless clicks, striving to achieve perfect time. This new publication presents many new and interesting ways to utilize the click benefiting any musician. The book is not filled with written exercises but rather concepts and approaches. The reader is directed to practice the concepts along with one or more of the 346 customized click tracks from the included CD. The author begins by inventing a new word: “inchronation.” This is defined as “one’s ability to play accurately or steadily in time, without unintentionally speeding up or slowing down.” He makes a distinction between simply playing with a metronome click and being able to produce and maintain a given tempo accurately from within. This internal sense of time, or “inchronation,” is the overall goal of the book.

Part one of the book focuses on the 
“Tools of Inchronation.” The two chapters in this section provide clear, foundational exercises to expose inconsistencies in time and strategies to correct them. Particularly revealing is the “Decreasing Click Track,” that begins with a quarternote click and gradually moves to half notes, whole notes, and tied whole notes. 
The space between the clicks gets bigger and bigger, testing whether time is being internalized.

Part two “deals with the application of your new tools in the form of temporelated issues and interesting challenges.” These include “Tempo Memory,” or the ability to recall a specific tempo or metronome speed, “Count Ins,” or the ability to accurately count in the correct tempo of a tune, and “Phrasing, Accelerando, and Ritardando,” or the ability to change tempo gradually rather than abruptly. These and other challenges in the book deal with real issues that all musicians face but often neglect to practice or even think about. Those looking for ways to improve their inner sense of time will find this book a lifelong study.
—Tom Morgan


By Mac Santiago B.M.

“A poorly played note well placed is better than a well played note misplaced.”  This was my friend, Wade’s reaction after I told him about the book I had given birth to late last year, entitled Beyond the Metronome.   I then thought to myself, “This is probably the best one yet”, i.e. it seemed that every musician I spoke to regarding the subject of tempo/groove, had a reaction or experience to share.  What we all seem to agree on is that in all music especially and not exclusive to that which has its’ rhythmic roots in Africa, e.g. folk, blues, jazz, swing, rock, r&b, and hip-hop steady tempo gives rhythm its’ value and that rhythms well placed establish steady tempo. 

Of course most players know that whatever one might think of the composition being performed, choice of notes in an improvisational setting or even tone quality, judgments most readily fly freely in regards to a player’s intonation and timekeeping or what I call, inchronation (in-internal, chron-clock)…that is an individual’s own ability to create or carry that rhythmic objective both accurately and with an overall sense of steady.  Through many years of playing (drum set, percussion) and discussing this topic I have come to the conclusion that in addition to being a good follower of the tempo one needs to be a good  creator of tempo.  Being a good follower is displayed in ones’ ability to get in sync with something external, albeit other musicians or a click track, loop etc.  On the other hand, being a creator of tempo is  something that the individual musician possesses internally and not overly reliant on the possible misconceptions or liberties taken within the given tempo of the  music. Creating that steadiness that the music requires should come from every player and be as much of a priority as pitch.  I would like to note here that this is just not applied to drummers and rhythm section players.  Everyone has an influence on the groove; a trumpet player playing a nice accent over an and-a-four hit consistently early can bring down an otherwise solid groove.

In the practice room, the process of learning to subdivide and play with the metronome at quarter notes is a great start but should be viewed as only the beginning.  Gradually removing the metronome and replacing it with your own internal clock seemed to be an appropriate step and one that was often missing in the aforementioned advice often given to music students. With the exception of playing faster tempos to a slower click or displacing the clicks to beats 2 & 4 (as the swing drummer’s high hat) an actual process has seemed to have ‘snuck’ under the radar or is just plain taken for granted.  As a result most young players and even some seasoned pros who can “play their asses off” can consistently show tendencies to rush through musical phrases or show an inability to recreate a given tempo from the beginning through to the end of a tune. In recording and even playing live I’ve even noticed an increasing reliance on click tracks that lend themselves to players  bouncing back and forth on either side of a beat in an effort to stay with it.

In the exercise below a student of the groove is given an opportunity to examine his/her own perspective of tempo. Try this : Go to  and simply tap or clap quarter-notes  or play a simple ostinato (short, repeated  phrase) on your instrument  to the metronome set at 80 bpm (beats per minute). Try the best you can to “bury “the click e.g. rhythmic unison ,or fit it into your ostinato. Once you feel comfortable doing so,cut the amount of clicks in half  by resetting the metronome to 40bpm.Once you feel comfortable at 40bpm try 20 .Then 10bpm .Remember ,well played is well placed and as the click gets longer in duration substitute the click with your own estimation of where the beat is. This is in fact your own internal clock, your inchronation. Now the metronome or click has become less of a guide for the time as your inchronation takes over.  Ending up in perfect rhythmic unison with the clicks is the ultimate goal but how close you are to them (late or early) and its’ consistency is more important and should give you a fair estimate of your conception of the given tempo.  REMEMBER THIS:  You must stay true to your perception of the groove. Being further away from the click each time means you are not playing the given tempo or altering it to some degree or another, i.e. rushing or dragging. If you are consistently in front or behind the click, you probably are steady but slightly inaccurate with what you played early in the exercise. Not necessarily unsteady but ’human’ for sure. At this point try again, employ more subdivision this time, maybe incorporating more non-essential body movement as often players do, i.e. foot tapping, a slight movement of the head or shoulders. If you need to play a more simple ostinato or vamp, do it. Staying relaxed with what you play is key… Good luck and remember ”A well placed note is better than a note just well played.”


A Review of Beyond the Metronome: Becoming an Inchronous Musician

By Bill Stieger

This review can be viewed online at both:


There has never existed a musician who has not, at least on occasion, struggled with keeping an even tempo, either as an individual performer or as a member of an ensemble. Whether tempo difficulties originate in the instrumentalist’s perception of musical time, or by way of performing a difficult musical passage that hinders rhythmic evenness, the existence of the problem--for all musicians--is inescapable. “Beyond the Metronome,” is a book, along with an accompanying cd, designed to enable musicians and singers improve their sense of internal time, and become, as author Malcolm “Mac” Santiago calls it, inchronous. 

Santiago defines inchronous as, “Exhibiting an ability to play rhythm accurately in steady time without the aid of a metronome, recorded music, or other musicians...” Whether one wants to call having a steady inner clock being inchronous, or simply groovy is immaterial. What is material is that “Beyond the Metronome” may prove be among the most indispensable rhythm aids a musician can own. 

In the book’s preface, Santiago asserts--and correctly--that playing one’s instrument along with a metronome is to simply to follow its rhythm. “By doing this you may eventually recognize what is “in time,” writes Santiago,“but there’s an important difference: you didn’t create the time, the metronome did. You simply followed.” 

So how does a musician learn to be inchronous? Santiago offers a roadmap to rhythmic redemption. 

The first part of the book is entitled: “Tools of Inchronation.” 

Lesson 1 begins with a rhythmic self-evaluation test. Using one of the cd’s 326 click tracks, which consists of various tempos, with various subdivisions and time alterations. In this lesson, the musician discovers his or her rhythmic tendencies as the clicks diminish from quarters to half-notes, whole notes, and tied whole notes that span more than four measures. Those results can be written down on the Margin-of-Error Spreadsheet that accompanies the book. 

Chapters 2 and 3 explore properties known to many musicians: the concept of subdividing, verbally and mentally, to keep one’s place over a span of beats, as well as what Santiago calls “The Little Dance,” which he defines as “walking in place, tapping your foot, tapping the side of your leg, bobbing your head, shoulder movements, etc.” 

Chapter 4 addresses the matter of rhythmic evenness, or what Santiago calls rhythmony, the rhythmic counterpart of harmony, or the “synchronization of sound in time.” Among the exercises offered in this chapter is the use of two metronomes, played at slightly differing tempos. “Notice how they separate and come together and determine when rhythmony (or perfect rhythmic unison) has been achieved.” 

Following Chapter 4 are chapters on creating tempo with half and whole note clicks; a chapter where the musician gives the click its value by playing a written rhythm to it, followed by the therapeutic exercise of playing to a click that diminishes, which can go far in teaching the musician to become rhythmically  self-reliant. 

Part Two of “Beyond the Metronome,” entitled “Concepts and Applications,” introduces many of the psychological factors in attaining and keeping strong, musical time. Santiago addresses cognitive, or conscious responses, versus reactive, or automatic responses. Santiago believes that “timekeeping can be viewed as an indication of how much the performance has become a reactive response,” which he believes is a measure of a musician’s familiarity with the music. A chapter entitled “Tempo Memory” is one to interest any bandleader who has counted in a group of musicians. Santiago sites “tempo by association” as the concept for accurate count-ins, with relative reference tempos listed of well-known hits of every stripe. 

Musicians, or course, vary their attacks as to where they place their beats--most often called time-feel--in relation to the pulse, no matter which style of music is being played. Expressions like “playing on top,” “In the pocket,” or “behind the beat” is common parlance on nearly every bandstand. “The choice to play on top, in front, or behind the beat is something the player must be in control of,” writes Santiago. The chapter ends with another exercise that utilizes two metronomes. 

The last chapters of “Beyond the Metronome” deal with accelerando and retardando, dynamics, and a host of challenging exercises involving volume drops, elongated clicks, along with a blank self-evaluation test that can be copied for the ongoing monitoring of one’s timekeeping progress. 

“Beyond the Metronome” is self-published by Mr. Santiago, and can be purchased for $21.95 via his website,  

The beauty of Santiago’s “Beyond the Metronome” lies not only in its brilliant and useful timekeeping exercises, but in its convenience. A musician can practice the exercises anywhere he or she has access to laptop or any device that can either play back the recorded drills from the cd. Take a flight from Los Angeles to New York, and land in the Big Apple with a elevated feeling for the groove. Is this possible? Santiago insists that it is. All he asks is to be able to prove it to you. 

Bill Stieger is a freelance writer and jazz drummer from St. Paul, Minnesota."


A Review of Beyond the Metronome:
By Jon McCaslin of

Check the review out at:

Drummer and author Malcolm "Mac" Santiago was very kind to forward me a copy of his latest book entitled "Beyond The Metronome: Becoming an Inchronus Musician".

Santiago defines the term "Inchronus" as the following:

in•chro•nous (ĭnʹ krôn- s) adj. Exhibiting an ability to play rhythm accurately in steady time without the aid of a metronome, recorded music, or other musicians . . . what many experienced musicians refer to as your internal clock.

Once I read his definition and introduction and understood that his book was about the topic of TIME, I was immediately interested and caught my attention. Developing a good sense and understanding of TIME should be a priority for any musician (not just drummers) of any style. Dealing with rhythm, and the issue of TIME specifically, is often accepted however how it is to be taught effectively and implemented often remains a mystery for many students and teachers of the music. Many people recognize the importance of having good TIME but when it comes to explaining how to teach that concept, many often just say "play along with a metronome" or shrug their shoulders. Well, there is obviously more to the science of musical time than simply playing along to a steady click and drummer/author Mac Santiago has developed a very interesting method and set of philosophies to help develop, specifically, a musician's "inner clock" and further one's feeling of TIME at a deeper, more personal level rather than simply being able to follow along with a click or metronome (but of course that's certainly that's part of it as well).

The book includes a CD containing .mp3's of various metronomic "click" exercises and routines at different tempos, all developed with the aim of improving one's sense of internal time. The overall goal of this book is to help us develop a strong personal sense of time without relying too much on external references. The author has done this by focusing on working with recorded click tracks designed to force one to rely on there own personal clock. For example, by working with "elongated" click tracks (click tracks where the subdivision gradually changes from quarter notes to half notes, to whole notes, etc.) and "diminished" tracks (where the pulse remains constant however the volume gradually decreases) one is required to shed any rhythmic insecurities one might have in order to properly execute a particular exercise and concept. Challenging stuff indeed !

The book is divided into two parts: Part One "The Tools of Inchronation" and Part Two "Concepts and Applications" and all the chapters use the extensive accompanying click track exercises contained on the CD.

The first part "Tools of Inchronation" deals with what Santiago describes as "concepts and exercises to help you get a deeper understanding of what steady time feels like - recognizing it, internalizing it, and finally creating it in the manner of your choosing" and the second part "Concepts and Applications" deals with "some real-life experiences that every musician goes through when exploring rhythm and tempo".

Between Santiago's well thought out explanations and philosophies of our relationship to the concepts of pulse, rhythmic subdivisions, etc. and the technical click exercises contained on the CD, this is overall an excellent resource to invest some time in if you are serious about furthering your personal relationship to TIME and rhythm.

You can find further information regarding this unique approach and resource to developing your sense of time here:


A Review of Beyond the Metronome:
By Bart Elliot of Drummer

Check out the 'Five Cups' rated review online at:

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