I've recently been immersing myself in Afro-cuban rhythms. There are many similarities between them, and it struck me that it would be interesting to learn how they are related to each other with a kind of family tree. Does this exist, and if so, can I be pointed in the right direction?


I'm not sure about a "family tree" per se, but you may be interested in reading Rhythmic Archetypes in Instrumental Music from Africa and the Diaspora. It's a scholarly article available for free at Music Theory Online.

The author (James Burns) discusses six rhythmic archetypes in instrumental music of Africa and the Diaspora. (Here I slightly broaden your definition of the already broad Afro-Cuban tradition.)

His first three archetypes are what he calls "weaving" archetypes; note how the surface rhythms jar against the metric background of straight eighth notes:

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His remaining three archetypes—the "ups," the "341," and the "shifting three"—are shown in the latter half of the article. If this is the type of thing you're looking for, I recommend checking out the article.

Furthermore, his bibliography may point you towards other sources that may be helpful in other ways.

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