New study shows Freddie Mercury pushed his voice to its limits

Scientists looked at 23 Queen songs in study

A new scientific study has looked at how Queen frontman Freddie Mercury used his voice and how is vocal abilities differed from others.

Published in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology, the paper studies 23 Queen songs as well as the ‘Freddie Mercury: The Solo Collection’ boxset. The researchers also recruited a modern rock singer to imitate Mercury’s vocal style, filming the results with a high-speed camera to determine how his larynx worked.

The study hypothesised that Mercury was a baritone singing as a tenor and that he showed instances of “subharmonic vibration,” the phenomenon of “a sound production system driven to its limits”.

While Mercury’s vocal range was deemed “normal for a healthy adult”, the study showed that the singer’s vocal cords vibrated more and moved faster than his peers, even more than that of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.

The study, led by Dr Christian Herbs from the University of Vienna, concludes: “These traits, in combination with the fast and irregular vibrato, might have helped create Freddie Mercury’s eccentric and flamboyant stage persona.”

Read the full study here. Hear Mercury’s isolated vocals from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ beneath.