The whole variation thing
Variations are, of course, part of ITM, but there seem to be different approaches.
I take it for granted that tiny variations are entirely normal. A note may be cut from above one time, "cut" from below another, just glottal-stopped (or similar) another time round. As a flute player, I try (often without success) not to always use exactly the same notes to miss out in order to breathe every time round, but to shift them around from one bar to another. Can I call them "light" variations?
But there is the other kind, in which the player leaves the notes as might be written in a single take of the tune and takes a different route through the notes to get from one end of a phrase to another. I suppose this could either be pre-planned (as in the "variations" sometimes printed in tune settings) or semi-spontaneous, as a blues or jazz player would do. "Strong" variations, for the sake of a name.
So far, so good, but this is where my limited knowledge runs out. Some people seem to speak as if strong variations are more or less de rigeur, the ""essence" of ITM as it is the essence of jazz/blues, and speak as if strong variations are ubiquitous. But others are not so keen, and I’ve seen it said (rightly or wrongly, I don’t know) that variations are much more emphasized in some geographic regions than others.
So what’s the score? Given that obviously some people use them a lot, are there indeed others who view taking flights of melodic fancy as showing off and disrespectful to the tune? Was it always so, or is it something subject to fashion?
I’d be interested to hear what those with wide knowledge can say about this.