Ilathalam is a traditional musical instrument that keeps time in major Kerala art forms as well as the panchavadyam (the Kerala quintet.) These are cymbal-shaped, thick discs of bell metal, hand-held by loops passed through holes in the middle. Played with the beat, its sounds vary according to the technique adopted. Freely played, it produces a resonating sound while clamping the discs together tightly cuts off the reverberations. Variations depend on the finesse of striking and sliding the discs against each other.