Definition and background:
A medieval principal of construction which was used most often in motets. This construction is based on a repeating rhythmic pattern in one or more of the voices. a technique for musical organization used during the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries in which the tenor repeats a certain pattern of pitches (the "color") and a certain rhythmic pattern (the "talea"). The color and talea may be different lengths. Used commonly in the motet; also used in some mass settings, for example in the Messe de Notre Dame by Guillaume de Machaut.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary