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Freddie Mercury's Incredible Voice Plumbed by Scientists

Image: Freddie Mercury's Incredible Voice Plumbed by Scientists
 (Carl Lender via Wikimedia/Commons)

By    |   Wednesday, 20 Apr 2016 12:35 PM

A scholarly study of late Queen singer Freddie Mercury's voice – published in the journal Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology – couldn't determine if his range was more than four octaves but it did discover that he used a technique that gave his voice an "unparalleled voice range."

The study was conducted by a group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers who analyzed "Freddie Mercury: The Solo Collection" and 23 other commercial Queen recordings, according to the Daily Mail.

"Freddie Mercury's voice has been described as 'a force of nature with the velocity of a hurricane,' which was 'escalating within a few bars from a deep, throaty rock-growl to tender, vibrant tenor, then on to a high-pitched, perfect coloratura, pure and crystalline in the upper reaches,'" noted the study's introduction.

"Such descriptions, while presumably adequate for a biography or a newspaper article, do not satisfy deeper scholarly interest into the singer's voice characteristics. The purpose of this study was therefore to conduct a viable analysis of publicly available data material, in order to arrive at more empirically based insights into Freddie Mercury's voice production and singing style." 

Researchers found that Mercury used a technique called subharmonics, better known for its use in throat singing, said the Daily Mail, and that gave the Queen frontman his large vocal range.

Researchers used an endoscopic video camera to examine Mercury's singing voice at 4,000 frames per second.

"(Subharmonics) aids in creating the impression of a sound production system driven to its limits, even while used with great finesse," said the study. "These traits, in combination with the fast and irregular vibrato, might have helped create Freddie Mercury's eccentric and flamboyant stage persona."

The study said while some sources suggested that Mercury had a four-octave vocal range from F2 to F6, they couldn't make that determination.

"However, in the examples listed by these sources the vocalist is not clearly identifiable (mostly because the putative examples for extreme notes stem from background vocals, which could have been sung by other members of Queen), or the respective data supposedly came from vocal improvisations that were not available as data material in this study." 

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A scholarly study of late Queen singer Freddie Mercury's voice – published in the journal Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology – couldn't determine if his range was more than four octaves but it did discover that he used a technique that gave his voice an "unparalleled voice range."
freddie mercury, voice, scientists
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2016-35-20
Wednesday, 20 Apr 2016 12:35 PM
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