The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby Sequence featuring Cameron Randall

This sequence is based on the main melody from Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles. This week’s sequence is brought to you by Cameron Randall. Take it away Cameron…..

Oberlin Experimental College

Oberlin is generally held in high regard for many of its unique programs and traditions. One such program is the Experimental College, or ExCo, which hosts a whole catalogue of courses offered to Oberlin students…taught by other Oberlin students. I have the pleasure of taking one such “ExCo” this semester, titled John, Paul, George, and RingCo (but commonly referred to as BeatlesCo). As someone who was previously unfamiliar with Beatles culture and their artistry, I had a bit of a wake-up call when I deep-dived into anything and everything Beatles for this course.

Eleanor Rigby is not your typical Beatles tune. While they often sang about heartbreak, this song was still quite extraordinary for its sadness and depth relative to their other songs at this time. We are first introduced to our protagonist, Eleanor, who is an old spinster waiting in the church after a wedding. The lyrics describe her pining for love of her own and wearing a mask of happiness and content despite her loneliness. In the last verse, we find that she has died love-less and alone, and her family name with her.

The Real Eleanor Rigby

There is much speculation around the title of Eleanor Rigby. Who is Eleanor? What’s her story? According to Paul, no one at all. She is completely fictitious and he maintains that stance despite all of the facts coming forth today.

In fact, the name Eleanor Rigby can be found on a gravestone in the graveyard of St. Peter’s Parish church in Liverpool, just a few blocks from John’s childhood home. It is well-known that he and Paul used to spend time at that cemetery as children, and very likely that they subconsciously picked up on that name while writing the song.

Likely by total coincidence, the real Eleanor Rigby is not a total misfit for the character in the song. Eleanor lived a relatively quiet life, passing away with no children, and having spent most of her time with only her husband and her two sisters, Edith and Hannah. Similar to the Eleanor in our story, her family name was lost with her.


This tune is comprised entirely of repeated phrases with slight alterations. Notice the agogic accents typically found on the second iteration. Strive for a smooth, connected sound with very clear fronts to each note and be sure to bring out the marked articulations for maximum effect.

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Happy Practicing!

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