Force of nature. It’s a really terrible Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock romantic comedy, and an accurate way of describing Freddie Mercury’s voice. As long as there’s karaoke, rhapsodic movie trailers, and classic rock radio, Queen will never go out of style, largely because of Mercury’s operatic vocals.
A team of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers discovered Mercury’s voice range was “normal for a healthy adult – not more, not less,” but he had unprecedented discipline. “He was probably a baritone,” they found, “who sang as a tenor with exceptional control over his voice production technique.” The researchers brought in another singer, Daniel Zangger-Borch, to imitate Mercury; his larynx was filmed “at over 4,000 frames per second, giving them an understanding of what Mercury would have done physiologically while singing these ‘distorted’ notes.” What they found was something closer to what you might hear from Tuvan throat singers than a ’70s pop star.
[It’s] an intriguing physical phenomenon called subharmonics… where not only the vocal folds vibrate, but also a pair of tissue structures called ventricular folds, which are not normally used for speaking or classical singing. (Via AlphaGalileo)
It’s a lot of technical mumbo jumbo — all of which you can read in Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology (I’m sure you already have a subscription) — but to put it simply: The average vibrato varies from 5.4 Hz to 6.9 Hz; Mercury’s was 7.04 Hz. That’s atypically fast, even for a Darth Vader-riding force of nature.
No one in Foreigner ever did that.