A commitment of a lifetime

2010 - present

WILLIAM R. CUMPIANO

CURRICULUM VITAE
Stringed-instrument maker/author/teacher/researcher

Last update: November 2014

 

EDUCATION

1959-1961, University of Puerto Rico High School, Rio Piedras Puerto Rico

1961 – 1962, St. John’s Preparatory School, Condado, Puerto Rico. Graduated 1962

1962 – 1964, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts. Undergraduate studies

1964 –1968, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. Received B.Ind.D. (Bachelor of Industrial Design)

 

EMPLOYMENT

1968 – 1970
Knoll International, New York, New York. Contract furniture draughtsman and designer

 

1970 – 1971
Eppinger Furniture, New York, New York. Contract furniture draughtsman and designer

 

1971 –1973
Gurian Guitars, Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Apprentice to Michael Gurian, master guitarmaker

 

1973 – 1974
Froggy Bottom Guitars, Richmond, New Hampshire. Apprentice guitarmaker to Michael Millard, master guitarmaker
 

1974 to present – William R. Cumpiano, Guitarmaker: proprietor of own guitarmaking studio, as

a full-time professional luthier making fretted instruments in the North American, Latin American

and European traditions

 

 

 

AWARDS & RECOGNITION

1973 – American Institute of Architects, New Hampshire Chapter
Received “Honor Award of Merit in Excellence for Workmanship”

 

1978 – Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
Request for display of Cumpiano guitar in national show, "The Harmonious Craft"

 

1993 – U.S. Patent Office
Co-recipient, for compression-molded carbon-fiber composite guitar soundboard

 

1997 – University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts
Received plaque given to William Cumpiano at awards banquet, “for his work in preserving

the culture of Puerto Rico through the making of traditional string instruments and

undertaking the task of teaching its art and origins to others”

 

2000 – Latino Scholarship Association, Western Massachusetts region

Received award and tribute for “Outstanding service to the Western Massachusetts Latino community”

 

2001 – American Crafts Museum, New York, NY.
Instruments displayed in year-long exhibition, “Objects for Use: Handmade by Design,” Paul Smith, curator

 

2006 – Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition
Presented to William Cumpiano "in recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community," signed by John W.  Olver, member of Congress for the State of Massachusetts

 

2006 ­– Official Citation, Massachusetts Senate

Presented to William Cumpiano "in recognition of your dedication and developing of the Cuatro Project." Signed by Robert E. Travelegne, President of the Senate

 

2006 – Proclamation from the House of Representatives of the State of Massachusetts

Presented to William Cumpiano "in recognition of"your dedication and developing of the Cuatro Project." Signed by Salvatore F. DiMasi, Speaker of the House.

 

2012 ­– Proclamation from the House of Representatives of the State of Massachusetts

Presented to William Cumpiano in recognition of "your being awarded the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant," signed by Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the House and State Representative John Sciback

 

2012 ­– Official Citation, Massachusetts Senate

Presented to William Cumpiano in recognition of "being chosen for a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for your work". Signed by Therese Murray, President of the Senate

 


PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS, MEMBERSHIPS & PARTNERSHIPS

1988 –1996
Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA)
Co-founder, board president, and board member of International trade association of East Coast luthiers, http://www.guitarmaker.org/

 

1993 – 1998
FibreAcoustics,
Partner in start-up company to market new materials for the musical instrument industry

 

1980 – 1994
Rosewood Press
Partner, publisher of guitar-making textbook (see Publications)

 

1990 – 1993
Artists in Resonance
Co-founder of instrument-maker's collaborative consisting of three guitarmakers, one drum-maker and one harp-maker, in Hadley, Massachusetts

 

1995 –1997
Leeds Guitarmaker's School
Co-founder, instrument making school in Northampton, Massachusetts

 

1992 to present
Puerto Rican Cuatro Project http://www.cuatro-pr.org
Co-founder. Community research project documenting the music and musical-craft traditions of Puerto Rico, focusing on the cuatro--the island’s “national instrument.” The effort received the endorsement/ financial support of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Latino Communications Center and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture of the Government of Puerto Rico,

 

PUBLICATIONS (partial list)

 

1987 - GUITARMAKING: Tradition & Technology, A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar,  by William Cumpiano and Jon Natelson, 400 p. hardcover textbook
"...perhaps the finest book on making guitars ever produced."(Guitar Player magazine) "...an unparalleled treasure" (Fine Woodworking magazine) "...the bible of the craft" (C.F. Martin IV, Martin Guitar Company) Three editions printed by Rosewood Press
 

1998 – present

GUITARMAKING: Tradition & Technology, A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar,  by William Cumpiano and Jon Natelson, 400 p. hardcover textbook
English-language paperback and hard cover rights for Guitarmaking purchased in 1994 by Chronicle Books, San Francisco CA, and new paperback and hardcover edition published. Copies sold to date, approximately 80,000. Currently in 8th edition. A new, revised edition is in progress.

 

2014
Cuerdas de mi Tierra [Strings of my Land],
Co-authored the first major book on the history, music and artisanal tradions of the family of Puerto Rican native stringed instruments. 

 

ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN TECHNICAL JOURNALS

AND POPULAR NEWSSTAND GUITAR PUBLICATIONS (partial list)
 

1976 – Guitar Joinery, Fine Woodworking magazine

    The balance between structure and tone

1978 – Hot-Pipe Bending, Fine Woodworking magazine

    Coordination, concentration and practice ensure success

1979 – Stringmaking: From the Hunter’s Bow, Frets magazine

    The history of String-making I

1980 – The Luthier’s Dilemma, Journal of Guitar Acoustics

    Sources of Acoustical Innovation

1981 – Popular Attitudes in Guitar Acoustics, Journal of Guitar Acoustics

    A survey of the popular media

1981 – The Puerto Rican Cuatro, Journal of Guitar Acoustics

    A luthier rediscovers his country’s folk guitar

1982 - Some Notes on Classical Bracing Design, Journal of Guitar Acoustics

    Excerpt from the upcoming textbook

1984 - Why Can’t I Tune This @#&@!!#! Guitar?, Vintage Guitar Bulletin

    Inherent problems in the guitar’s equal-tempered scale

1984 – String Technology Shaping Instrument Evolution, Frets magazine

    The history of String-making II

1985 - Manuel Velazquez: An Appreciation, American Luthierie magazine

    A visit and an interview with the world’s greatest living luthier

1985- Compensation Considerations, Frets magazine

    Guitar-saddle compensation schemes

1985 – Dalberia Nigra & Friends, American Luthierie magazine

    Interview with famed wood scientist, Dr. Bruce Hoadley

1985 – Guitar Neck Fractures, American Luthierie magazine

    Problems and techniques

1985 – Wood’s Appearance, American Luthierie magazine

    How wood’s anatomy dictates its surface appearance

1987 – Don Manuel Velázquez, Guitarrero, article in Houghton-Mifflin Spanish reader, Portales

1993 – Hand to Hand, Acoustic Guitar magazine.
    The North American renaissance of individually crafted guitars

1993 – The Cuatro: A Potent Icon of Puerto Rican Culture, Folk Life magazine

    On the Cuatro and the Cuatro Project for the Pioneer Valley Folklore Society

1995 – Caribbean Memories, Acoustic Guitar magazine

    The stringed instruments and musical creations of the Spanish Caribbean

2000 – Cutting String Slots, Acoustic Guitar Owner’s Manual, String Letter Publishing, Inc.,
   technical article for a large-format newsstand paperback publication

2001 – Nylon String Guitars, article in Custom Guitars, A Complete Guide to Contemporary Handcrafted Guitars, String Letter Publishing, Inc., Introductory text to coffee-table book

1986 to present - regular contributor for the Q&A column in Acoustic Guitar Magazine

 

ARTICLES ABOUT WILLIAM CUMPIANO

 

1987 – Frets Visits William Cumpiano 1987 feature magazine article in Frets Magazine

 

2004 – William Cumpiano , 2004 feature article in the April issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine


2005 – Crafting Great Guitars, Woodworker’s Journal # 122, April, 2005 magazine article feature describing William Cumpiano’s career and work

 

2013 – Interviewed and featured in new book on guitar makers, Guitar Makers: The Endurance of Artisanal Values in North America, by Kathryn Marie Dudley, 2014 Chicago-University of Chicago Press, 357pp.

 

TEACHING AND DOCUMENTATION GRANTS RECEIVED


1991 – New England Foundation for the Arts
 to teach artist Hector Marrero the craft of cuatro making
 

1992, 1993 and 1994 – Connecticut Commission on the Arts Individual Artist Grants (Inner City Cultural Development program)
to teach artist Graciela Quiñones the craft of cuatro, tiple and bordonua making. She is now the first woman cuatro maker in the United States and Puerto Rico
 

2001 - Southern New England Folk & Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program,
a collaborative project with artist Graciela Quiñones to recreate the vanished Puerto Rican 8-string cuatro, drawing upon old photographs and other field research of the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project
 

1995 - $30,500 grant for William Cumpiano and his Cuatro Project from the National Endowment of the Arts for Vol. 1 of a Puerto Rican Cuatro video documentary
 

2004 - $75,000 grant for William Cumpiano and his Cuatro Project by the Massachusetts State Legislature for completion of Vol. 2 of a Puerto Rican Cuatro video documentary and a short feature on the Puerto Rican Décima poetry
 

2005 - $75,000 grant for William Cumpiano and his Cuatro Project by the Massachusetts State Legislature for work on a book on the Puerto Rican Cuatro and other activities.
 

2006 - $75,000 grant for William Cumpiano and his Cuatro Project by the Massachusetts State Legislature for completion of the book on the Puerto Rican Cuatro, a website on the Puerto Rican wooden Santos tradition, and public events in the Boston Public School on Puerto Rican traditional music.

 

2007 - $75,000 grant for William Cumpiano and his Cuatro Project by the Massachusetts State Legislature for the creation of two short video documentaries, “Trayendo Cidra a Massachusetts” and “Making Tiples”; a 40-page bilingual pilot publication, “Caramba!” written for adolescents in comic-book form, covering Puerto Rican musical and craft traditions; and an audio CD recording, “La Décima Espinela” featuring the top Puerto Rican traditional poets and musicians.

 

 2007 - $35,000 grant for William Cumpiano and his Cuatro Project by the Massachusetts State Legislature for creating a new Cuatro Project website and expanding the Projects folk craft collections.

 

 

VIDEOGRAPHY

 

1998 – Wrote, directed and produced Un Canto en Otra Montaña: Música Puertorriqueña en Hawaii [A Song Heard in Another Mountain: Puerto Rican Music in Hawaii] a short-feature video documentary on the music and social history of the century-old Puerto Rican Diaspora in Hawaii

 

1999 – Wrote, directed and produced NUESTRO CUATRO: Los Puertorriqueños y sus Instrumentos de Cuerda, Vol.I (1493-1959) (in collaboration with Juan Sotomayor and Wilfredo Echevarría), a ground-breaking 90-minute video documentary on the music and social history of the stringed instruments of Puerto Rico that was partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Premiered at the Institute for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in San Juan, Puerto Rico. US premiere at the Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution during the Cuatro Festival celebrating the opening of the Smithsonian show, “A Collector’s Vision of Puerto Rico”

 

2000 – Produced and translated NUESTRO CUATRO into English under the title,  NUESTRO CUATRO:The Puerto Ricans and their Stringed Instruments, Vol.I (1493-1959)

 

2001 – Co-produced and co-directed Construyendo Cuatros [Making Cuatros] which comprises visits with two of Puerto Rico’s most respected cuatro makers, showing them at work, the sequence of constructing a cuatro, and their impressions of their craft and the future prospects for the instrument

 

2005 – Completion of NUESTRO CUATRO: Los Puertorriqueños y sus Instrumentos de Cuerda, Vol.II (1960 to the present) The second and final feature-length volume of the work, which includes visits to the most prominent makers and players of the instrument, and a musical overview of the current Diaspora-wide interest in the cuatro, covering from 1959 to the present. Premiere at the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña 2005

 

2006 - Completion of LA DÉCIMA BORINQUEÑA short documentary feature in DVD format on the history and traditions surrounding the poetic form

 

2009 – Completion of a two-part, video-magazine-format program titled Teatro Puerto Rico, made up of two short video documentaries: one that traces the life and career of a traditional decima singer that immigrated to Western Massachusetts as a young man, and continues to present his ancient art as a well-known regional performer; and a report on a workshop held in Chicago that gathered a mixed group of the city’s residents and taught them to make a small stringed instrument that had disappeared from the hills of Puerto Rico, the tiple.

 

 

EDUCATIONAL EVENTS PRODUCED
 

Over the last twenty years, William Cumpiano and members of the Puerto Rican Cuatro Project, often in collaboration with schools, universities, museums, libraries and community service agencies, produced numerous education public events that focused on Puerto Rican traditional music.

 

1994 – First Cuatro Festival of Holyoke, Holyoke Children’s Museum, Holyoke, Massachusetts

1995 – Third Cuatro Festival, Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, Bronx, New York

1995 – My Cuatro is my Flag Festival, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey

1995 – Discovery of Puerto Rico Day Concert, Weil Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City

1997 – Annual Winter Gathering of the People’s Music Network, concert, Springfield, Massachusetts: Pete Seeger and the Cuatro Project’s Orquesta Jibara Antigua

1997 – Crossing the Boundaries: Transplanting, Transposing Cultures, Panel at conference on Puerto Rican Music in Hawaii, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York

1998 – Concert, Philharmonic Orchestra of Southern New Jersey and cuatrista Alvin Medina, soloist, Camden, New Jersey

1998 – Puerto Rican Music and Culture Day at the Smithsonian, co-produced by the Cuatro Project and the Museum of American History, Washington DC

1999 –Video Presentation and Lecture, Community Room, Edgewater Apartments, Springfield, Massachusetts

1999 – Puerto Rican Cuatro Conference and Festival, Roberto Clemente High School, Chicago, Illinois

1999 – First Competition for the Making of the Early Cuatro, Bordonua and Tiple,  Ponce Puerto Rico

2000 – Rhythms of the People, Concerts, displays and workshops, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut

2000 – Voices From the Mountains: Traditional Music of Appalachia and Puerto Rico, Concert of traditional Appalachian and Puerto Rican musicians, Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, Bronx, New York

2000 – The 2nd Puerto Rican Cuatro Conference and Festival, Field Museum Amphitheatre, Chicago, Illinois

2001 – The 3rd Puerto Rican Cuatro Conference and Festival, Field Museum Amphitheatre, Chicago, Illinois

June of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 -- Instrument making workshops given to beginning students during Puerto Rican Week events in the Humboldt Park area of Chicago, Illinois

2008 -- Instrument making workshop given to at-risk, inner city adolescent dropouts in Holyoke, Massachusetts under the auspices of YouthBuild Holyoke.

2014-- Instrument making workshop given at Trinity College, Hartford, CT under the auspices of the Trinity College Fine Arts Department and Hartford Center Church

 

 

LECTURES

 

Guitar Setup Procedures,
lecture before the Guild of American Luthiers, Symposium '88. Boston, MA

 

History of the European Craft Guild System,
lecture before a gathering of the Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans, Symposium '92, Lafayette, PA

 

My Cuatro is My Flag: a social history of the Puerto Rican Cuatro
lecture before the Hispanic Students Association at the Five-College Consortium, Amherst College, April 97, Amherst MA

 

Latin Twang
lecture on the historic and artistic processes that brought about the profusion of Latin American musical string instruments from Columbus to the present day; given at the American Crafts Museum, New York, NY, December 2, 2001

 

Guitar Making and Cuatro Making,

lecture before a gathering of students on the subject of guitarmaking given at the Interamerican University, Bayamón Campus, Bayamón, Puerto Rico, November, 2006

 

Puerto Rican Cuatro Traditions

Lecture given to attendees at the First National Puerto Rican Cuatro Day festival held in Guayama, Puerto Rico, sponsored by INCA, the Institute of Native Creative Arts.June 2009

 

Guitarmaking in North America

Lecture before the nascent Instrument-makers guild of Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia, 2011

 

What Happened to the Vihuela? [¿Qué le pasó a la vihuela?]

Lecture on the influence of 16th and 17th century Spanish instrumentmaking traditions on the native folk instruments of Puerto Rico, given at the Puerto Rican Music Museum, Ponce PR, November 2011


What Happened to the Vihuela?  [¿Qué le pasó a la vihuela?]

Lecture as above to the biannual Caribbean musicologists conference, MIC, at Santiago de Caballeros, Dominican Republic, June 2012

 

Puerto Rican Cuatro Traditions
Lecture at the Puerto Rico Art Museum, Santurce, Puerto Rico, June 2014

 

The Puerto Rican Cuatro Project

Lecturer at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College for the Música in the United States: Puerto Rican Roots – Jazz – Classical Music Symposium May 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010 - present