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Beneath the Wave


SATB, a cappella (divisi)

"Having just entered Japan for a six-month stay only a few days after the massive earthquake and tsunami disaster that occurred in March of 2011, I was able to witness firsthand the indescribable amount of pain and suffering that so many were put through. However, it was not just waters of destruction and sadness that swept the country; a wave of strength, endurance, and love guided the people of Japan to remain focused on what was important: recovering and helping one another.


Beneath the Wave's title comes from Hokusai’s famous painting, The Great Wave. Next to Hokusai’s signature he has written three Japanese phrases, among them is "nami ura," which translates to English as "beneath the wave." In Hokusai’s painting there are 30 fishermen in boats, rowing fearlessly toward their demise, unafraid of the titan that nature has sent toward them while Mt. Fuji (representing heaven), in the center of the painting, watches over them.

When writing the text, I related the events of March 2011 to some of the symbolism that can be found in Hokusai’s painting in a non-standardized Japanese style of haiku, known as gendai.

When writing the music, I represented each of the three disasters that occurred (the earthquake, the tsunami, and then the nuclear reactor meltdown) with its own musical climax, leaving the listener to feel the same relentless emotional ride that was felt during that time.


May all of those who lost their lives on March 11, 2011 find eternal peace, and may all of their families and loved ones find solace in knowing that their loves ones sleep peacefully beneath the wave.

Get the Score:

nami ura

nete imasu



yamano ue


watashiwa miru


sakurawa sora ni egaku,

ameno yoni


watashitachino meni egaku




sai kouchiku suru

Beneath the wave

I am sleeping

I am home.


Above the mountains

I am awake

I watch.


Cherry blossom rain

Paints the sky,

The great wave

Paints our eyes





Words, Music, and Translation

©2011 by Luke Flynn (ASCAP)

All Rights Reserved

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