An Acoustic Analysis of Freddie Mercury’s Voice

We all know that Freddie Mercury was a phenomenal singer. Was he physically blessed with a larynx that wouldn’t quit? Was his music the product of inborn talent? A new study published in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology determined that Mercury’s singing voice was most likely the result of hard work and discipline. Respect. A team led by Austrian voice scientist Christian Herbst said Mercury had a normal human range and he was most likely a baritone, although he sang tenor. The study included analysis of Queen’s music plus comparison with another rock singer performing with a camera down his larynx (what fun that must have been). What they found out about Mercury was pretty impressive. 

What they discovered was that he likely employed subharmonics, a singing style where the ventricular folds vibrate along with the vocal folds. Most humans never speak or sing with their ventricular folds unless they’re Tuvan throat singers, so the fact that this popular rock vocalist was probably dealing with subharmonics is pretty incredible.

What’s more, Mercury’s vocal cords just moved faster than other people’s. While a typical vibrato will fluctuate between 5.4 Hz and 6.9 Hz, Mercury’s was 7.04 Hz. To look at that in a more scientific way, a perfect sine wave for vibrato assumes the value of 1, which is pretty close to where famous opera singer Luciano Pavarotti sat. Mercury, on the other hand, averaged a value of 0.57, meaning he was vibrating something in his throat even Pavarotti couldn’t move.

Add to that the precise control he had over his voice, and you’ve got the phenomenon that was Freddie Mercury. You can read the entire study here. -via Uproxx

(Image credit: Flickr user a a)


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