He was one of rock’s most iconic singers, he was instantly recognizable and with a vocal range that was second to none.
We are of course talking about the late, great Freddie Mercury. But have you ever wondered how one of music’s greatest got that voice?
Researchers have been delving into the secrets behind Mercury’s singing voice and why it was one of the most distinctive in rock history.
Enter, a group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers that conducted a study to analyze Mercury’s distinctive vocal chords.
It has been widely rumored that the singer had a huge four-octave vocal range. While the researchers couldn’t substantiate those claims, they did discover some interesting findings about the voice that at one time was described as “a force of nature with the velocity of a hurricane.”
By looking into some of the singer’s archive recordings plus filming the larynx of a rock singer imitating Mercury’s voice with a high-speed camera running at over 4000 frames per second, the researchers found a physical phenomenon called “sub-harmonics”.
In technical terms, sub-harmonics is an intentional voice box distortion that uses both vocal folds and ventricular folds to produce an extreme growling sound which is traditionally used by Tuvan throat singers in Mongolia.
The research also concluded that Freddie was more likely a baritone and not a tenor, as he was known; it was also found that his vocal chords moved faster than other people’s at 7.04 Hz, compared with the typical vibrato rate of between 5.4 Hz and 6.9 Hz.
Whatever the researchers results were, Freddie Mercury was one of the greatest vocalists of all time and to this day is the standard to which most singers aspire.
In other Freddie Mercury news, Mercury’s personal notebook from the last three years of his life, which includes around 20 songs for Queen. The auction will begin on June 29th at Bonhams in the U.K. It is estimated that the notebook will sell for $70,000 to $100,000 (£50,000-£70,000).