Freddie Mercury might be regarded as one of the greatest vocalists of all time, but as far as vocal range goes, he was nothing out of the ordinary.
At least, those are the findings of a group of scientists who studied the deceased Queen singer’s voice.
A team of Austrian, Czech and Swedish authors studied archive recordings of Mercury and enlisted a rock singer to imitate him in their study. According to the study’s lead author, Austrian voice scientist Christian Herbst, the “Bohemian Rhapsody” singer possessed a vocal range that was “normal for a healthy adult — not more, not less.”
The study was unable to substantiate previous speculation that Mercury’s vocal range exceeded four octaves. It did, however, turn up an interesting nugget about Mercury’s voice — contrary to popular belief, he was probably a baritone “who sang as a tenor with exceptional control over his voice production technique.” The study came to this conclusion in part by analyzing six interviews, which revealed a median speaking fundamental frequency of 117.3 Hz, typical for a baritone.
The scientists also offered insight into Mercury’s famous vocal vibrato. Analyzing 240 sustained notes from 21 a cappella recordings, they discovered a mean fundamental frequency modulation rate (vibrato) of 7.0 Hz — a rate described as “surprisingly high.”
Read more about the study here.