Definition and background:
A system devised in the 13th century which governs the rhythmic relationships in music. This system lead to the modern use of time signatures in music. It has to do with the divisions of time in the following manner:The relationship between the longa and the breve is called the modus;The relationship between the breve and the semibreve, the tempus;The relationship between the semibreve and the minim, the prolatio;These relationships can be either 3:1 ( perfect) or 2:1 ( imperfect). By adjusting these relationships and mixing them among each other, many different divisions of time (just like modern time signatures) were achieved.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary