New Study Examines the Properties of Freddie Mercury's Voice
Published Apr 18, 2016Not only recognized as one of rock music's greatest frontmen for his showmanship with Queen alone, Freddie Mercury also has one of the most recognizable singing voices in recording history. Now, a new study has analyzed those powerful singing pipes to deliver insight into Mercury's voice production and vocal stylings.
A team of Austrian, Czech and Swedish authors studied archival interviews, a cappella vocal tracks, and endoscopic high-speed video to draw a number of conclusions about Mercury's voice.
Often said to have a vocal range of over four octaves, lead voice scientist Christian Herbst stated in an abstract that Mercury's range was "normal for a healthy adult — not more, not less" in finding nothing to back the claims.
The study instead purports that Mercury was likely a baritone who sang as a tenor with exceptional vocal control, citing an instance in which Mercury turned down a baritone role in an opera over fear that fans would not recognize his voice in that register.
The study also analyzed Mercury's intentional use of vocal distortion through filming the larynx of a rock singer replicating the Queen frontman's vocals at over 4,000 frames per second. Through this, the team discovered Mercury's use of subharmonics, a physical phenomenon in which both the vocal and ventricular cords vibrate. The latter are not normally used for speaking and classical singing.
The study also makes mention of Mercury's vibrato, which was "irregular and unusually fast" in comparison to those of other rock vocalists.
You can read the lengthy study, complete with diagrams, here.
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