In music, a key signature is used to indicate the pitch at which notes are played over the course of an entire song. The musician then knows which notes to raise or lower as they appear. Why is that so important? A key signature is written at the beginning of the song and is the lens through which the whole song is seen, read, and played. It operates on a direct and global level, coloring even the notes not included in the key signature.

Simon Sinek often describes his concept of the golden circle, illustrating how most organizations operate: from the outside in. They know deeply what they do each day but only occasionally understand how they do it and rarely grapple with why they do it. Sinek contends that the most effective organizations operate from the inside out, proceeding from their why to their how and finally to their what. Beauty, like key signatures, is like that innermost circle of the why. In this life, we will never know all the intricacies of the universe, though we catch hints along the way. Ultimately, we have to decide what we believe is the key signature of our world and all that exists. Knowing the world’s key signature is the difference between beauty and boredom, awe and accident.

If you entertain beauty as the world’s key signature, it directly affects how you see life and how you act. If beauty is the key signature for all that is, then it is also the key signature written into you, me, and everyone we meet. When we recognize something as beautiful (nature, a book, a song, a smile), it is the key signature within us resonating with the key signature of the world. Even the Latin word resonantia gives you the sense of an echo, a hearkening to that primordial note: the Big Bang which could be seen as the world’s First Chord.

If beauty is the key signature of the world, its influence doesn’t stop at the notes directly affected. In fact, its influence doesn’t stop at all. In music, every “happy sounding” major key has a relative “sad sounding” minor key. They share the same sharps or flats, but the melody is colored differently. Beauty reminds us that even when life takes a turn towards the minor key, the major key is still the original. It doesn’t make the difficult part of the song (or life) any easier, but it does make it more bearable because it’s not how the song ends.

That is the reason for my involvement with Love Good as a patron, as an artist, and as a friend: Beauty is the key signature of our world. And our hearts need beauty to stay on pitch.


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Dennis Carr
Dennis Carr

Denny is co-author of "5 Steps to Effective Student Leadership: Insights and Examples". His academic background is in theology, philosophy, and educational administration. Outside of work, he is a composer and unable to pass an open piano without playing it.