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, and consolidated as a genre in the 18th 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 supporting 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.