Martin asks about tunes with different phrasing and numbers of measures.
There is one dance in the RSCDS collection that is 28 bars - Princess
Augusta. It has its own tune.
Much of the Scottish musical tradition centers around tunes that are 16 bars
long, or 32 bars. However, if one strays into other genre, one can find
different lengths of tunes. The English Country dance tradition is one, the
Quebecois tradition is another. I checked Peter Barnes' English Country
Dance Tune book and found several:
Cupid's Garden, 6 bars A music, repeated, plus 12 bars B music also repeated.
Dance written in 1932, meter 3/2.
Easter Thursday, 6 bars A, repeated plus 6 bars B, repeated. 1733, meter 3/2
Faithless Nancy Dawson, 20 bars, written in the 60's, meter 4/4. The tune is
Gathering Peascods, 6 bars A, repeated, plus 6 bars B, repeated, plus 6 bars
C, repeated. 1651, meter 2/2.
Gossip Joan, 12 bars, 1932, meter 2/4.
Heidenroslein, 28 bars, written by Pat Shaw, meter 3/4.
So you can see that the English have lots of tunes and dances in different
meters and measure lengths, both old and contemporary. I don't know which
came first, the tune or the dance, but I suspect that the contemporary ones
are dances for which the devisor composed the tune.
The Quebecois tradition has a large group of tunes referred to as 'crooked'.
They have variable measures and when one first hears them, one thinks that
the musician made a mistake. There's a little extra something tucked in
somewhere. They are great to dance to if you don't worry about precise
phrasing, and are also good solo step dance accompaniment.
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord, NH