What's the word?
November 28, 2008 10:38 AM   Subscribe

What's the word for a musician who's known more for his style than his music, or who shows off when playing? I think it starts with an "a"
posted by mpls2 to Writing & Language (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Virtuoso?
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:45 AM on November 28, 2008


"Accomplished"?
posted by timeistight at 10:45 AM on November 28, 2008


Artiste?
posted by slightlybewildered at 10:49 AM on November 28, 2008


Dr-Baa got it. By "a", I meant "v". ;)
posted by mpls2 at 10:55 AM on November 28, 2008


I may be mistaken, but I don't think that 'virtuoso' has the showoff-y, style-over-substance connotation that your question seems to be reaching for.
posted by box at 11:27 AM on November 28, 2008


Virtuoso means a master of their instrument, and they're usually known for their style of playing their music, if that's what you mean. But they're regarded as masters for their ability to play music. This is what Wikipedia says on the subject.
posted by WilliamWallace at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2008


An entertainer.
posted by dydecker at 12:13 PM on November 28, 2008


I wonder if you were thinking of auteur, which looks a bit similar to maestro.
posted by Magnakai at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2008


The word "virtuoso" does have a fairly lengthy history of being used in a depreciatory way to indicate someone who's a bit of a dabbler. Here's the first non-obsolete definition of the word from the OED:

"One who has a special interest in, or taste for, the fine arts; a student or collector of antiquities, natural curiosities or rarities, etc.; a connoisseur; freq., one who carries on such pursuits in a dilettante or trifling manner."

However, that's a pretty ye-olde-skool use of the word, and I'm mostly familiar with it because I read 19th-century literature all day long. To talk about a musician in this day and age being a virtuoso *can* imply a technical whiz player who might be lacking a little in the "artistic soul" department (for reasons relating to youth or, alternately, scary, robot-like proficiency), but is more commonly used to describe a generally top-notch player.

In my musical circles, someone who is "known more for his style than his music, or who shows off when playing" is called a "grade-A wanker," but the OED doesn't seem to have my back on that one.
posted by Hellgirl at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


Seconding Hellgirl - virtuoso can occasionally refer to a show-off, but it almost always refers to somebody with huge amounts of natural talent; a fantastic musician who can do amazing things either technically or artistically; somebody who makes very very difficult things seem easy.
posted by Cygnet at 12:31 PM on November 28, 2008


Drummer?
posted by carter at 12:52 PM on November 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


A "Ham"
posted by sandking at 1:23 PM on November 28, 2008


i was thinking 'asshole.' or maybe i wasn't thinking. but asshole is what came to mind first.
posted by msconduct at 2:18 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


When I hear "virtuoso", I think "Joe Satriani". I also don't think that's quiiiiiite the word you're looking for.
posted by Precision at 3:11 PM on November 28, 2008


"Liberace."
posted by exphysicist345 at 3:25 PM on November 28, 2008


People sometimes used to call this jerking off or musical masturbation. Which has slowly made sense to me overtime.
posted by sully75 at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2008


"Clapton"?
posted by bricoleur at 4:27 PM on November 28, 2008


A-hole?
posted by peewinkle at 6:51 PM on November 28, 2008


Showboater.

From Dictionary.com:

show⋅boat
   /ˈʃoʊˌboʊt/ [shoh-boht]

–noun
1. a boat, esp. a paddle-wheel steamer, used as a traveling theater.

2. (Informal.) show-off.

3. a person, esp. an athlete, who performs in an ostentatiously sensational manner calculated to draw attention; show-off.

–verb (used without object)
4. to perform or behave in an outrageous or spectacular manner.
Also, showboater (for defs. 2, 3).


Origin:
1865–70, Americanism; show + boat

posted by Rhaomi at 7:43 PM on November 28, 2008


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