A particular source of inspiration came from the essays of English symphonic composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (which Janet was directed to study when her choices of thesis subject would not achieve approval from Professor Boydell at TCD!), which affirmed her resolve to follow her heart against the prejudices of the day and explore Ireland’s historical harp and traditional music. So, inspired by the traditional but presenting always in a fresh contemporary sound with odd, innovative and constantly changing or absolutely absent rhythms; long and florid or pithy melodies in large formal structures, basically, the harmony and tonality in her work is simple.
The modal nature of Irish music is maintained - mainly because the diatonically tuned harp, her first choice of instrument, can’t easily employ semitones in the course of performance. Also, every part in her orchestral or harp ensemble scores is crafted as a logical and satisfying independent solo which is designed for orally trained traditional music performers. When played in the ensemble context, the complexity of the fabric is thrilling and the testament to the popularity of her works is the frequency in which they are performed the world over today. In fact, it is widely acknowledged that her energy and creation of the ‘harp orchestra’ idea has played a leading role in the re-energisation of Irish harp in Ireland - and the creation of a new form of chamber ensemble that is animating a surge in harp playing throughout the western world.”