Freddie Mercury continues to make news almost 25 years after his death from AIDS in 1991.
Researchers at the University of Vienna have examined his voice and found that he incorporated techniques used by Mongolian throat singers.
Dr. Christian Herbst wrote in the journal Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology, “The occurrence of subharmonics aids in creating the impression of a sound production system driven to its limits, even while used with great finesse. These traits, in combination with the fast and irregular vibrato, might have helped create Freddie Mercury’s eccentric and flamboyant stage persona.”
Subharmonics is an intentional voicebox distortion using both vocal folds and ventricular folds to produce an extreme “growling” sound, which is traditionally used by Tuvan throat singers in Mongolia.
Researchers came to their conclusion by examining archive recordings and filming the larynx of a singer imitating Mercury’s singing with a high-speed camera running at over 4000 frames per second.
Fans of The Big Bang Theory may be familiar with Tuvan throat singing as it is one of the quirks of that sitcom’s lead character, Sheldon Cooper.
Check out Freddie’s isolated vocals – We Are The Champions: