O’Donnell has invented a revolutionary playing technique with new type sticks and new pedals. On May 1, 2000 he presented the world premiere of SeeSaw Drumming at City Museum in St. Louis under the auspices of New Music Circle and on May 11, 2000 the New York premiere at Merkin Hall by World Institute of Music. SeeSaw Drumming is based on reciprocal motion, which allows him to play twice as fast as his normal technique. While speed is fun, pros know that it’s not most important. The ability to create complex layers of polyrhythms gives him new insight into rhythmical structures. He no longer thinks in terms of downbeats and bars, but rather convergence and overlays and cycles of the various layers. This technique can be fast and dense, but it can also be elegant and in the pocket. He enjoys playing now more than ever.
He has published 3:4:5, a book onSeeSaw Drumming. A second book with 3 accompanying CD’s illustrating the technique is near completion. Some of the rhythmical systems explored include:
HARMONIC RHYTHMS-polyrhythms or polytempos with an integer ratio, that are synchronized like the ratios found in the harmonic series. Pattern shifts occur within the common subdivisions. An example would be 3:4:5.
MOIRE PATTERNS-sync'd epicycle patterns outlined by accents or short rests, (negative space). Which pattern emerges as dominant depends on the perception of the listener-like the changing patterns seen when looking through two window screens.
SWARMS-like swarms of insects, birds or fish, where the rule is to keep the distance as close as possible, without touching, (the sonic analogy is that each voice plays close to the same speed, without synching). A slight shift will "push" the whole group. He also creates interactive computer/ synthesizer software, using MAX/MSP and KYMA/CAPYBARA systems to accompany live percussion performances