Created By: Himbeergeist on September 17, 2013 Last Edited By: XFllo on January 4, 2016
Nuked

Delicate Pianist

A graceful piano player.

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Trope

The Delicate Pianist is a piano player, never of the Dreadful Musician kind, usually (but not always) very attractive and slim, sometimes a little fragile. In fiction this is frequently used to tell us that a character is very sensitive, deep, artistic, talented, musical etc., or to show us the Hidden Depths of a Deadpan Snarker/Jerkass.

The piano is an obvious choice here as piano pieces an the instrument itself are also very elegant, but not necessarily too fancy since it's an inherent part of classical music as well as Pop/Rock.

In music it mostly overlaps with Singer Songwriter. In film and live-action TV it's often a case of The Cast Showoff.

May overlap with Elegant Classical Musician if the character's play is a turn-on for others In-Universe. Compare with Harp of Femininity when the harp is present to show that the character is lady-like and feminine.

Contrast with The Piano Player, who is more of a provider of background music than an independent character.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Tsumugi Kotobuki is a classically trained keyboardist of the school band in K-On!. Everyone in the series is quite good-looking, but she's described as having a certain gentleness even still.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, Austria is a master pianist, and rather slim and soft-spoken. His piano solos make Hungary melt... along with Austria's Eleventy Zillion other fangirls.
  • Haruka from Uta No Prince Sama plays piano as a composer and fits the "delicate" part due to her Ill Girl constitution. Masato is also a pianist, and his Tall, Dark and Handsome Ice King schtick qualifies him for this trope.
  • Yin from Darker Than Black is a Doll, a sort of (nearly) Emotionless Girl. However, her Origins Episode shows that prior to the Super Empowering event that turned some people into Dolls and other into Contractors she was a skilled pianist, despite having no sight.
  • Chiaki from Nodame Cantabile is always graceful when playing the piano (and the violin) as opposed to the more sloppy Nodame. He also happens to be Tall, Dark and Snarky.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Subverted with Catherine, the youngest of the Armstrong family. Havoc is surprised to see that she is such a waif compared to the rest of the family but when he asks about her hobbies...
    Catherine: I...like the piano...
    Havoc: (thinking) There's no way she can be the major's sister...
    Catherine: I like to pick up the piano... (does so with ONE ARM)
    Havoc: (thinking) Scratch that! She is 100% the major's sister!

Film
  • Played with in Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest. In one scene Davy Jones is seen playing the organ in a very ecstatic manner. Despite the brutality of his play, this shows us his sympathetic side for the first time and serves as a Foreshadowing for the events of the third film.
  • Molly Mahoney (played by Natalie Portman) in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Piano playing is the job she turns to in order to make money when Magorium's in hospital, but she was also a child prodigy and is often seen trying to compose her own symphony. She really is elegant even when pretending to play on the rail in a bus.

Literature
  • Jane Fairfax from Emma is a delicate and gentle English Rose with fragile health. She's rather tall and slender. People love listening to her performance on the piano and everybody praises her taste in music.
  • Miss Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility is a talented pianist with deep feelings for music and poetry. She's very passionate and over the course of the novel she loses her health.
  • Anne Elliot from Persuasion is a young woman who lost her bloom. She has elegant and cultured mind and she's a great pianist, but nobody understands her and she feels alone — even in music. She could share her love of music only with her late mother and her former fianc√©.
  • The Awakening:
    • Mademoiselle Reisz is a professional pianist of extraordinary skill. She's homely, unfashionable and fairly arrogant, but people admire her talent and dedication to music. She encourages Edna to be an artist.
    • Adele Ratignolle is Edna's close friend and devoted to her family, a prime example of ideal mother and ideal wife. She's gentle and fragile, and keeps up with only one hobby, playing the piano, because it makes her home more attractive.

Live-Action TV
  • In one memorable scene of Twin Peaks Donna Hayward's little sister Gersten wows her parents' dinner guests, the Palmers, with a Mendelssohn piece, while being dressed as a princess.
  • A character played by Alicia Witt, Rosalind Harker in The Mentalist. Her lover Red John enjoys her play very much. Also Jane is visibly moved when he listens to her.
  • In House, Gregory House, MD is a Doctor Jerk and extremely annoying to everybody. He's frequently seen on the piano and playing with extraordinary skill which contrasts his Deadpan Snarker persona.
  • In Monday Mornings, one fourteen-year-old girl and Littlest Cancer Patient is revealed to be a gifted piano player. She bonds with her love for music with Doctor Hooden, who is considered to be an extremely hard person.
  • Ephram Brown from Everwood is Troubled, but Cute and a Deadpan Snarker. Being an amazingly talented pianist is his defying trait. He's a bit of an outsider, coming from New York and feeling he doesn't fit in Everwood where his father dragged him after his mother's death.

Music
  • The song "Piano in the Dark" by Brenda Russell deals with a woman who is unable to leave her love interest because of his awe-inspiring piano play.

Sequential Art

Video Games
  • Julia Heartilly, the pianist of a hotel bar in Final Fantasy VIII, who is tall, thin and pale, and noted to be rather shy and reserved, qualities that attract the attention of Laguna Loire and later General Caraway, with whom she would eventually have a daughter, Rinoa. Though skilled at the piano, her true desire was to make it as a singer.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Wladyslaw Szpilman on whose life The Pianist is about. His play had a major role in keeping him alive during the Holocaust.
  • Fryderyk Chopin was a well-known pianist and composer of piano music. He suffered from frail health most of his life, eventually dying of tuberculosis at just 38.

Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • September 17, 2013
    Alucard
    How about Tsumugi Kotobuki in K On? Everyone in that series is pretty good looking, but she's described as having a certain gentleness even still. She'a a Spoiled Sweet Ojou that's studied in classical piano.
  • September 17, 2013
    Koveras
    Wouldn't that be a specific form of Elegant Classical Musician?
  • September 17, 2013
    XFllo
    Hmm... this might be a useful trope, but careful with Zero Context Examples in the draft.

    Elegant Classical Musician is for attractive musicians, though the name is not very clear on the part that it's a beauty trope and attraction trope.

    Also, the trope in the draft is better than The Piano Player, which is specific and defined mainly for westerns and similar genres. However, it often gets to be troped for whatever pianist in the work.

    This might be a very good trope that's needed.
  • September 17, 2013
    DAN004
    That trope named The Piano Player needs to change its title. It's very not clear. Sheez. :/

    Maybe add that "the pianist is often considered delicate and pretty because piano plays are often also delicate and pretty. Not to mention that piano plays has a lot of elegance over it; compare violin plays, contrast, say, guitar or drum plays."
  • September 17, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Changes of titles —> Trope Repair Shop. I think it's quite ok, though, personally.
  • September 18, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work titles, put a blank line between each media example group, and de-Pot Holed the Twilight example as per How To Write An Example - State the source.
  • September 18, 2013
    Frank75
  • September 18, 2013
    LordGro
    Three things:
    • Leave that Exactly What It Says On The Tin nonsense out of YKTTW. It's white noise.
    • "gracious" is ambiguous because it also means "kind", "friendly", "forgiving" etc. I believe "graceful" is the word you want.
    • The examples you listed under Music are actually Real Life examples. A Music example would be a song about a Delicate Pianist. We can live without Real Life examples.
  • September 18, 2013
    Himbeergeist
    The first two points: Ok, fine. I disagree on the Music thing though. Not that every piano-playing musician fits this trope, but the image of the comely musician and his piano is so actively invoked in photoshoots and the likes that it still fits imo. In popular music there is always also a bit of staging involved and I guess pianists and PR guys are well aware of the impression of this trope. I'd leave Joni Mitchell out, though. Any third opinions on this, anyone?
  • September 18, 2013
    XFllo
    Several points about the trope in general, the current draft and how to improve it, about Real Life and Music, and finally I have several examples.

    I think I agree in part with Lord Gro's comment. Examples in Music folder should indeed be songs about such a character. Examples of real musicians belong to Real Life folder. However, I am of the opinion that we could keep listing them. I don't see any potential Edit War over the issue and if people add good context why said musicians are considered graceful or delicate, or if their producers force them to pose as such, then I say why not. Only we have to be careful with gushing.

    I have to repeat that there are still Zero Context Examples in the draft. The write-up has to explain e.g. how they look, who considers them delicate, if it is stated by the narrator or other characters, if it is the actor who has that fragile look, how they show their vulnerability, and things like that.

    Copied from the draft:

    This has zero information value for people who have not seen the film.

    I think only fully comprehensible example is Gregory House (stating that it's put in contrast with his normal persona), and I'm not sure if it is because I know the show.

    Next, I think the draft description could have paragraphs — it's getting quite long.

    Also, is it limited to pianists? I think people who play the violin have similar reputation in fiction. But pianists do seem to be prominent.

    Literature
    • Jane Fairfax from Emma is a delicate and gentle English Rose with fragile health. She's rather tall and slender. People love listening to her performance on the piano and everybody praises her taste in music.
    • Miss Marianne Dashwood in Sense And Sensibility is a talented pianist with deep feelings for music and poetry. She's very passionate and over the course of the novel she loses her health.
    • Anne Elliot from Persuasion is a young woman who lost her bloom. She has elegant and cultured mind and she's a great pianist, but nobody understands her and she feels alone — even in music. She could share her love of music only with her late mother and her former fianc√ɬ©.
    • The Awakening:
      • Mademoiselle Reisz is a professional pianist of extraordinary skill. She's homely, unfashionable and fairly arrogant, but people admire her talent and dedication to music. She encourages Edna to be an artist.
      • Adele Ratignolle is Edna's close friend and devoted to her family, a prime example of ideal mother and ideal wife. She's gentle and fragile, and keeps up with only one hobby, playing the piano, because it makes her home more attractive.

    Live Action TV
    • In Monday Mornings, one fourteen-year-old girl and Littlest Cancer Patient is revealed to be a gifted piano player. She bonds with her love for music with Doctor Hooden, who is considered to be an extremely hard person.
    • Ephram Brown from Everwood is a Deadpan Snarker and an amazingly talented pianist. He's a bit of an outsider, coming from New York and feeling he doesn't fit in Everwood where his father dragged him after his mother's death.
  • September 19, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ The trope about "Graceful Violinist" warrants its own YKTTW, I think.
  • September 19, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Tropes Are Flexible. This could be renamed to Graceful Musician.
  • September 19, 2013
    Himbeergeist
    Added in your examples and put some context to The Pianist. The title character might also be a good fit for the trope in Real Life, so I added him in. Real Life itself may have too many examples to count, so it would be better to include this trope only on the examples' page. I also thaught about stretching this YKTTW to Graceful Musician, but first would lead to confusion with Elegant Classical Musician, second when collecting examples it occured to me that pianists definitely have a majority compared to others.
  • September 19, 2013
    XFllo
    I'm sorry to be a bother, but most examples still lack context. They would be commented out. I love the trope, though. :-)

    Observe the difference:
    • Jane Fairfax is one of those, very loosely based on someone Jane Austen knew. Jane even plays and sings with Frank Churchill.
    • Jane Fairfax from Emma is a delicate and gentle English Rose with fragile health. She's rather tall and slender. People love listening to her performance on the piano and everybody praises her taste in music.

    See? ;-)

    I'm neutral about real life examples. However, if the musician has a trope page, then the trope should be cross-wicked (both the creator's page and the trope page should list the example). Generally, if a page or just one folder gets too big, the page gets split and we create a subpage.
  • September 29, 2013
    XFllo
  • September 29, 2013
    DracMonster
    • In Axis Powers Hetalia, Austria is a master pianist, and rather slim and soft-spoken. His piano solos make Hungary melt... along with Austria's Eleventy Zillion other fangirls.

    Actually, Austria would probably make a good page image.
  • September 29, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ Suggestions for good images are always welcome. :-) My guess is we have to be careful with JAFAAC though and I think IP thread will be needed once it gets launched.
  • September 30, 2013
    Frank75
    An image? The Wilhelm Busch example is a story with pictures after all. (I wouldn't call it a comic strip, for the lack of Speech Bubbles, but as said, it's Sequential Art and doesn't belong in Literature.)
  • October 2, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ If you wish it, we could make a folder for Sequential Art. :-)
  • October 3, 2013
    Synchronicity

  • October 5, 2013
    Himbeergeist
    Added your examples and made a makeshift Sequential Art folder. If someone finds examples for Comic Strips, one might consider to integrate the Wilhelm Busch story there.
  • October 7, 2013
    Frank75
    Re image: Would this one be OK, or is it too deranged? (The other pics of the story are playing the trope straight...er.)
  • October 7, 2013
    lexicon
    There's nothing delicate about that picture. The twilight example needs to say how he's delicate.
  • October 7, 2013
    Alucard
    Do you think we could request this artist to use this picture?

    There's also this, drawn by this person.
  • October 22, 2013
    XFllo
    Bumping.
  • November 7, 2013
    XFllo
  • November 12, 2013
    XFllo
    Taken from the draft (Zero Context Examples).

    Literature
    • In Twilight this is just one more thing Bella admires about Edward.
    • Iphy and Elly of Geek Love even play four-handed in their show, due to being Conjoined Twins.

    Film

    Anime and Manga
  • November 16, 2013
    Alucard
    ^ I gave Tsumugi plenty of content, and the OP decided not to include it all.
  • November 17, 2013
    lakingsif
    Natalie Portman in Mr Magoriums Wonder Emporium. It's the job she turns to in order to make money when Magorium's in hospital, but was a child prodigy and is often seen trying to compose her own symphony. She really is elegant when pretending to play on the rail in a bus, too.
  • November 19, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • November 29, 2013
    Susyspider
  • November 29, 2013
    XFllo
  • November 30, 2013
    Susyspider
    ^ Oh sorry. Probably would be best to include it under Anime And Manga. There is also a Live-Action though, but it's more recent.
  • January 26, 2014
    XFllo
    Bumping.
  • February 2, 2014
    Jeduthun
    Fryderyk Chopin was a Real Life example. A well-known pianist and composer of piano music, he suffered from frail health most of his life, eventually dying of tuberculosis at just 38.
  • February 7, 2014
    Tallens
    • Julia Heartilly, the pianist of a hotel bar in Final Fantasy VIII, who is tall, thin and pale, and noted to be rather shy and reserved, qualities that attract the attention of Laguna Loire and later General Caraway, with whom she would eventually have a daughter, Rinoa. Though skilled at the piano, her true desire was to make it as a singer.
  • February 10, 2014
    andrewn1994
    In Schindler's List a Waffen SS soldier plays Bach's English Suite Prelude on a piano while the Jews are murdered in the clearing of Warsaw Ghetto.
  • February 13, 2014
    LordGro
    This is not at all ready to launch. What is this about? The description offers little substance and a lot of foam.

    "The Delicate Pianist is [...] usually (but not always) very attractive and slim, sometimes a little fragile." So they're not necessarily attractive and slim, sometimes a little bit fragile and sometimes not. In other words, it's not really important how they look. So, what is important? The only thing we know for certain about how this trope looks is that it's a piano player at his/her piano.

    "In fiction this is frequently used to tell us that a character is very sensitive, deep, artistic, talented, musical etc., or to show us the Hidden Depths of a Deadpan Snarker/Jerkass." At least an attempt at defining a trope, but it's unfortunately rather blurry. There's a whole list of adjectives; do they all have to apply or does any single one count?

    Also, that a musician is artistic and musical sounds logical; but it's also trivial. Doesn't really add anything.

    There's also no true explanation of the meaning of the piano, or why other instruments are excluded from the trope. "The piano is an obvious choice here as piano pieces an the instrument itself are also very elegant, but not necessarily too fancy since it's an inherent part of classical music as well as Pop/Rock." Are violins or flutes not elegant? And why is the degree of "fanciness" important?

    To me, the examples seem to be mostly a list of characters who are seen playing a piano. Since the description is so vague, everyone can pick his own interpretation to shoehorn a show in.

    "Delicate", "fragile", "graceful", "slim" is a body type. "Sensitive", "deep", "artistic", "gifted" are personality traits. "Handsome", "comely" is an appearance, resp. judgment of attractiveness. "Piano player at a piano" is a pose. Some examples interpret the trope as "of tender health", "sickly". About what exactly are we talking?
  • March 1, 2014
    XFllo
    Hm, I personally think it should be about all musician.

    What are we going to do? Is it going anywhere and the description just needs to be more clear, or should it be separated in several drafts? Or does it lead nowhere?
  • September 5, 2014
    jormis29
    • Fullmetal Alchemist: Subverted with Catherine, the youngest of the Armstrong family. Havoc is surprised to see that she is such a waif compared to the rest of the family but when he asks about her hobbies...
      Catherine: I...like the piano...
      Havoc: (thinking) There's no way she can be the major's sister...
      Catherine: I like to pick up the piano... (does so with ONE ARM)
      Havoc: (thinking) Scratch that! She is 100% the major's sister!

  • November 20, 2014
    jormis29
    The word fiance in the Persuasion example is showing up as fiancé.
  • November 23, 2014
    eroock
    Can we extend the trope to Delicate Soloist or Delicate Virtuoso? Even violists can have the features mentioned here, like Nicolo Paganini.
  • November 24, 2014
    XFllo
    ^^ I know, it should be ok on the main wiki, though. I'll keep an eye on it when/if I launch this draft.
  • November 24, 2014
    Koolkev
    Awww man, I was about to make a trope like this, only I was calling it "Peaceful Pianist" (to give it alliterative appeal) because pianists are usually portrayed with harmless and graceful personalities because they are elegant piano players.
  • November 24, 2014
    jormis29
    ^^ Good to know that you are aware
  • January 4, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump
  • January 4, 2016
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Hat>

    This is a shoehorn magnet and ZCE bait. It couldn't even make it through YKTTW without massive shoehorning. It shall be discarded. Delicacy is a stereotypical trait shared among many different artists; it has no special meaning for someone who plays the piano.
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