Sent this to Julia by mistake earlier, instead of to everyone...
From: Gibbons, John
Sent: 08 September 2010 15:58
Subject: RE: [NSP] Re: 4-bar reels
It should also be noted that a lot of older '8-bar' reels have the structure of a 4-bar reel with a slightly varied repeat (like Julia's 2nd strain), so the structure is schematically |:A A' :||: B B' :|. Buttered Peas is of this type.
Most strathspeys are on the 4-bar pattern,
|:A :| B B' | usually with a variant ornamented tag in the 2nd strain.
The 4-bar form is nowhere near as limiting as you'd guess, and the fact that
there are so many of the things around, from Clare to Shetland and most places in between, shows there is still a lot going for it. The reels are rhythmically powerful, in general - and the underlying harmonic rhythm is often much clearer than in tunes with longer phrases.
There are quite a few of these scattered through society publications (and
elsewhere, but I'll stick to what I know about). As a tune form they are
widespread, but survive alive and played in our area and Shetland for just two.
Try The Steam Plough and Harlow Hill Lads (early C19) in NPS 3 , Dear Tobacco
(prob. C17) in the Charlton Memorial (amongst many others therein).
As to "who writes those now?" well here you go:
(fans of simple abc may need to remove the mtex dialect bits)