Punto guajiro or punto cubano – or simply punto – is a sung genre of Cuban music, a poetic art with music. It emerged in the western and central regions of Cuba in the 17th century. Although it has Andalusian origins, it is a true Cuban genre because of its integration with African elements.
Punto is played by a group with various types of guitar: the Spanish guitar, the Cuban tres, the laúd and the tiple. The punto refers to the use of a pick (punteando), rather than strumming (rasgueado). There are three percussion instruments: the clave, the güiro and the guayo (also a scraper, but of metal). Singers form themselves into teams, and improvise their lines. They sing, or chant, an unvarying melody, with intervals between stanzas to give the singers time to prepare the next verse.
Early compositions were sometimes recorded in print, as were the names of some of the singer/composers. Beginning around 1935, punto reached a peak of popularity on Cuban radio. Nothing was done to record their work, but as it happens, a stenographer, Aida Bode, was a fan of this genre, and she wrote down the verses as they were broadcast. Finally, in 1997, her transcriptions were published in book form.
Celina González and Albita both sang punto in the first part of their careers, proving that the genre is still alive, though perhaps moribund in its original form. Celina has one of the great voices in popular music, and her suppoeting group Campo Alegre is outstanding. For aficionados, however, Indio Naborí (Sabio Jesús Orta Ruiz, b. 30 September 1922) is the greatest name in punto, for his decima poetry, which he wrote daily for the radio and newspapers. He is also a published author, with several collections of his poetry, much of which has a political nueva trova edge.
Types of punto
- Punto pinareño (punto libre or vueltabajero): from the western province of Pinar del Río. A free style, with a fluent, melodic line, a slow tempo and a variable meter.
- Punto en clave (punto fijo: from the provinces of Camagüey and Las Villas. A fixed style with singer maintaining the same tempo and meter.
- Punto espirituano: from Sancti Spiritus province.
- Punto matancero: from Matanzas province.
- Punto seguidilla: "several stanzas (décimas) sung without interruption, to a tune which can at any time break off the song."
Interpreters of the punto
- Vincente Espinel (b. Ronda, Andalucía 1550)
- Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1651)
- Lopez de Vega
- Juan Hidalgo (fl. 18th century)
- Juan R. Limendoux
- Gregorio Morejón
- Ordóñez Santana
- Edelmira Vera
- Pedro de Armas
- Antonio Camino
- Justo Vega (Cabezas, 9 August 1900 – Havana 31 January 1993)
- José Sánchez León (b. San Antonio de los Baños 1899)
- Pedro Guerra (b. La Salud)
- Fortún del Sol, Colorín, (b. Cienfuegos)
- Chanito Isidrón (Calabazar de Sagua, 1903 – Havana, 22 February 1987)
- Rigoberto Rizo (Madruga, 1907)
- Adolfo Alfonso
- Inocente Iznaga (Cienfuegos, 29 December 1930)
- Martica Morejón (b. 21 June 1942)
- Ángel Valiente, Angelito, (San Antonio de los Baños, 28 February 1916 – 21 January 1987)
- Jesús Orta Ruiz, Indio Naborí, (San Miguel del Padrón, Havana, 30 September 1922)
- Luis Gómez
- Nazario Segura
- Omar Mirabal
- Jesús Rodríguez
- Francisco Reyes Castano "El Cacique Jaruqueno", (Jaruco, Cuba, 24 July 1917–Miami, Florida, April 1978)
- Roy, Maya 2002. Cuban music. Princeton & London.
- Orovio, Helio 2004. Cuban music from A to Z. p171
- Linares, María Teresa 1999. El punto cubano. La Habana.
- Sublette, Ned 2004. Cuba and its music: from the first drums to the mambo. Chicago. p91
- La lira criolla, guarachas, conciones, décimasy cantares de la guerra por un Vueltarribero. 2nd augmented edition, La Habana 1897.
- Bode Henrnández, German 1997. Décimas rescatadas del aire y del olvido. La Habana. Sublette, Cuba and its music, p489-9, tells the story.
- Indio Naborí and Ángel Valiente 1977. Décimas para la Historia. La controversia del siglo en verso improvisado. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
- Orovio, Helio 1981. Diccionario de la música cubana: biografico y tecnico. Havana.. p314 (transl. contributor).
- Linares, María Teresa 1999. El punto cubano. La Habana, Los intérpretes (p71).
- Feijóo, Samuel 1977. Cuarteta y décima. La Habana.