Sunna Gunnlaugs

Concert Tonight

January 25, 2010 1:09 pm | Filed under: Music | Comments (2)
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Tonight I am performing with guitarist Andrés Þór Gunnlaugsson. We have been playing together since last summer and it is interesting that we have the same last name. He is the son of Gunnlaugur and I am the daughter of Gunnlaugur, but two different Gunnlaugurs, so we're not related. We have a nice musical connection though. (read more…)

A Duo Gig and a New Composition

November 2, 2009 10:37 pm | Filed under: Music | Comments (0)
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This is just a short little note to announce that I will be performing in a duo setting with guitarist  Andres Thor, Wednesday November 6th. We are doing a 30 minute lunch hour concert at the Nordic House in Reykjavik, as a part of a concert series organized by the University of Iceland. Show time is at 12:30pm. We will be premiering two tunes. One is a composition of mine that has been given the title "Long Pair Bond". The title was suggested to me on Facebook and you can read all about it in my previous post Name That Tune…My Listeners Did.

I was very much inspired by the submissions and wrote a new tune last Friday that I call "Autumnalia". That title was suggested by Michael Paul Pavlic. Thank you Michael. You can see a video of me playing it on Facebook.

Name that Tune… My Listeners Did.

October 27, 2009 11:02 am | Filed under: Music | Comments (24)
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I did a little experiment on my facebook fanpage last week. I posted a home video of myself playing a composition that I will premier next week and needed a title for. I was really just looking for a title, but when people started to submit their suggestions I realized that everyone was expressing how the tune made them feel. To me that was really neat. I rarely get such direct feedback from listeners. Most of the suggestions had a commonality and many referenced the season. It would be interesting to see how that would change if I had done this in summer. I got so many great suggestions that I really would like to write music with those titles in mind, if there are no objections. (read more…)

Happy Birthday Thelonious

October 13, 2009 12:28 am | Filed under: Music | Comments (4)
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Saturday was the birthday of pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) so I wanted to write a little something in his honor. First and foremost, he was unusual, and the uniqueness and peculiarities of Monk's personality were perfectly reflected in his music. This is partially the secret to his success. He put so much of himself into how he played, and the tunes he wrote that as a listener you can't help but feel some sense of kinship with him. He put himself out there as an artist, naked. He wasn't polished technically, but he was advanced in his own way. His melodies are very angular and rhythmic but catchy at the same time. Some are incredibly simple. Some deceptively so. His own sound on the piano was a bit square and clunky, but in a charming way. Most composers are very loyal to their tunes but Monk was one of few who might change his own tunes a bit from gig to gig. (read more…)

Playing Around a Hurt Finger

September 16, 2009 10:43 am | Filed under: Music | Comments (3)
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Last Saturday I was peeling a carrot with a brand new serrated peeler that slipped and took a chunk out of the tip of my left index finger. Ouch! It was too small to have it sewn back on (which didn't even occur to me at the time) but bad enough for me to seek the assistance of my neighbor, who happens to be a nurse. I was stunned for the next two days. How could I be so careless with my hands? Then fortunately by yesterday I began to feel amazed at how quickly the hole was filling in and now it looks like I can start playing again. I wonder if I'll get a new fingerprint. Maybe I'll be detained next time I enter the US. Anyway, I feel grateful that it wasn't worse.

It makes me think of the great guitarist Django Reinhardt and how two of his left hand fingers were paralyzed in a fire (and not just that, the doctors would have amputated his right leg if his gypsy clan hadn't smuggled him out of the hospital), but he still managed to master his instrument and become a legend. About 7 minutes into the video below one can see how he solos with only two fingers.

Luckily, I won't have to learn to play the piano with only two fingers.

Solo Piano

September 11, 2009 8:50 am | Filed under: Music | Comments (3)
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This year I was asked to give a solo piano performance at the Reykjavik Jazz Festival with rather short notice. I had never given a solo concert before besides the occasional cocktail gig, and so to me it was a welcomed challenge.

In search of inspiration I listened to three pianists playing solo. All of them have a very personal approach. Bill Evans, not concerned with walking bass or playing stride says it all with his beautiful chords; Django Bates walks, strides and paints with nuttiness on Autumn Fires (And Green Shoots); and Keith Jarrett gets these incredible grooves happening on the Sun Bear Concerts. Well, as Jarrett says on Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, after playing so much with a rhythm section the left hand is almost like an appendage for jazz pianists.

Having this performance coming up (and in the company of 4 other fine Icelandic jazz pianists, I might add: Agnar Már Magnússon, Árni Heiðar Karlsson, Eythor Gunnarsson and Davið Þór Jónsson) was a good kick in the you-know-what to start giving that left hand some T.L.C.
It would probably have been easier to play a standard, the standard way, but I wanted to present a personal approach so I played two tunes of mine and one interpretation of a folk song. Now I am fascinated by the art of playing solo piano and plan to develop it more. Here's a video of 'A Garden Someday' from that performance:

Other solo piano albums that I love include (read more…)