Queen’s frontman Freddie Mercury had the most distinctive voice in rock and roll history. His fans claim that his extraordinary vocals spanned multiple octaves. And a lot of fans wonder: Did Freddie Mercury have 4 octaves?
Here is what I know from being a Queen fan for decades:
Freddie Mercury did have a 4-octave vocal range which ranged between F2- F6. However, Freddie Mercury’s vocal ability also included the ability to go from soft and sweet to a loud rock voice very quickly. And his extraordinary vocals are often attributed to his buck teeth.
Born with four extra incisors, Freddie Mercury believed his genetic defect aided in attaining his magnificent voice. His vocal abilities were often described as “a force of nature with the velocity of a hurricane.”
He demonstrated his ability to switch from delicate vocals to powerful expressions within a short span. And Queen’s unique sound is often credited to the singer’s unique and rare 4-octave vocal range.
But his vocal range wasn’t the only reason for Freddie Mercury’s popularity and eccentric stage persona. His personal life was as inspiring as his music.
Since he isn’t among us anymore to share his opinions, I had to do a lot of digging to get more details. But I’ve also been a fan for decades.
👑FREDDIE MERCURY 👑 pic.twitter.com/zu3dRV88cg
— 👑 ROCK QUEEN👑💎💥 (@FREDDIELOVEVD) August 12, 2021
Did Freddie Mercury have a good voice?
Freddie Mercury had an outstanding and distinctive voice, especially given that he didn’t have any formal training. He combined his vocal strength with passion, pure emotions, theatricality, and musical charisma.
Freddie was known to have the incredible gift of Ear of Music. He could hear any song and reproduce it without any effort. His voice has been a matter of study over the years.
Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology undertook individual research to analyze Freddie Mercury’s voice and determined 2 factors behind Freddie’s good vocal abilities.
Let us take a look at them one by one.
When Freddie Mercury spoke, his voice had a frequency of 117.3 Hz.
This gave him a rich baritone voice. But when Mercury sang, he had a range that could go as low as 92.2Hz up to 784 Hz.
This ability to manipulate his vocals allowed him to hit notes from a booming low of F#2 to the high pitch of G5s or higher.
The study also indicates that Freddie could modulate his vibrato and sound significantly faster than other rock stars. His typical vibrato could fluctuate around 7.04 Hz.
The lead analyst involved in the study, Dr. Christain Hebst, says Freddie Mercury was an:
“Incredibly skillful and versatile singer who could adapt a wide range of artistic vocal expressions and laryngeal configuration to musical needs.”
The analysis of this study reports that Freddie had a voice unlike any other in Rock n Roll history, which helped him achieve the unique performances of all time.
— A Queen Of Magic (@aqueenofmagic) August 12, 2021
Did Freddie Mercury have perfect pitch?
Freddie Mercury did have perfect pitch, which is the ability to sing a note perfectly without any accompaniment or reference note. His sense of pitch gave him great control of his timbre, range, phrasing, and rasp.
His fans believe that he was considered one of the best male vocalists that modern music has ever witnessed. Of course, being a human, he had moments where he wasn’t perfect, but who is?
Vocal coaches have studied his voice extensively and confirm that he had “the best ears on the business”.
He knew what a song should sound like to the last detail. He could pick out any incorrect note in a piece and instantly correct it in live concerts.
The only time his pitch went slightly off was when he wasn’t doing that well. Even then, he knew how to sing the same melody half a step lower and keep up his pitch.
Many said his voice was “studio magic” because he sang perfectly when autotune didn’t exist.
Freddie Mercury refused to have his teeth worked on because he was afraid it would change his voice. pic.twitter.com/rgsGOTY5Mw
— World Class Facts (@WorldClassFacts) December 12, 2015
What did Freddie Mercury attribute his enhanced vocal range to?
Freddie Mercury was born with 4 supernumerary incisor teeth. As he grew, it pushed his teeth forward, leading to buckteeth which he believed improved his vocal range. This belief is why he never sought dental work to correct his teeth.
Born to Bomi and Jer Bulsara, Farrokh Bulsara, aka Freddie Mercury, had four extra teeth when his teeth started coming in. Growing up, the teen was always self-conscious about his looks.
Later in the years, when music drew his attention, he had the impression that his buck teeth had something to do with the particular resonance that it lent to the configuration of his voice.
He even rejected any orthodontic treatment to treat his malocclusion, fearing that his voice would lose the magic it had.
However, it seems like the real reason behind Freddie’s unique voice is more scientific than a genetic defect.
A posthumous study conducted to develop an acoustic analysis of Freddie’s voice indicated that Freddie’s vocal range, chords, and unusual vibrato control greatly impacted his natural tone.
The research shows Freddie has a natural voice for a healthy adult, but what stood out was how he applied vibrato and distortion to his voice.
Whatever may have been the reason behind his fantastic voice, his fans know that Freddie was a powerful performer. His performances are well worth remembering, even decades after his death.
35 years ago today, Freddie Mercury of Queen performed to 120,000 people at Knebworth Park, England.
He ended the show by saying, “Goodnight and sweet dreams.”
It would be his last ever performance with the group. pic.twitter.com/435HMej3ze
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) August 10, 2021
What other singers have a 4-Octave vocal range?
Singers with a 4-octave vocal range include Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Brendon Urie, Paul McCartney, and Prince.
Among these, Freddie’s was the most unique.
A good catalog of the range combines decent baritone, tender, alto, and notes ranging from low to high. Among these, what can make a singer stand out is their range of octaves.
A 2-3 octave is generally pretty normal for singers (Elvis Presley, Cheryl Cole, Chris Martin) and can be trained and expanded a little with work.
But why does a good Octave range matter?
Having a wider range helps signers get noticed more and can help them achieve popularity as they stand out more among the rest.
Being able to vocalize notes from extreme low to extreme high is the capability that is mainly attributed to having access to multiple octaves.
In addition, the artists also need to be mindful of what they do with each note within the vocal compass: diction, delivery, projection, expression.
All these components come into play in making a performance great.
— Maria (@200Metal) August 13, 2021
Does Adam Lambert have the same vocal range as Freddie Mercury?
Queen’s guitarist Brian May has stated that Adam Lambert, who currently sings for Queen, possesses a wider vocal range than Freddie Mercury.
Lambert came onto the scene with his American Idol audition in 2009, where he sang Bohemian Rhapsody by the band Queen.
Coincidentally, Brian May (guitarist of Queen) watched this audition and was highly impressed by the voice of this young performer.
Two years later, Adam was invited to attend a show in Belfast along with Queen. The idea to collaborate sprung immediately.
And Adam Lambert became the main vocalist.
Lambert has been touring with Queen for the past several years. And they were named Best Live Act of 2012 by Gigqwise.
Brian stated that Adam has an uncanny gift for interpreting Freddie Mercury’s songs saying his voice has a sensitive depth and great maturity and range.
Brian May told Universal Music:
“We didn’t look for this guy, suddenly he’s there, and he can sing all of those lines. See, they’re difficult songs to sing, Queen songs. He can sing higher than Freddie could in a live situation”.
You can find tons of videos comparing the two singers. But I believe both are fantastic for different reasons. But I am a bigger fan of Freddie because he was the first to create the legendary sound. And of course, Freddie also played amazing piano parts with Queen, while Lambert doesn’t play any instruments.
When someone talks about 4-octaves vocal range in rock and roll, Freddie Mercury’s name jumps immediately to mind.
While much of our singing abilities are attributed to our biological inheritances, Freddie’s case was a genetic defect.
Born with four extra teeth, Freddie believed this defect somehow aided his vocal range to achieve the particular resonance and the ability to extend his octaves. Musicians in this range are rare because producing a note in it is different and singing in this range is diverse.
But even among vocalists with a 4-octave range, Mercury was the rarest of the rare.