Hhhrrrmph [Update]


Brian heard back from an author of scientific study of Freddie Mercury’s voice:

Dr. Christian Herbst wrote:

While being a graduated biophysicist and working full-time in academia, I am a musician at heart. I study the singing voice in general, not only to objectively describe the acoustic output, but also to understand how voice is being produced on a functional, physiological, and physical level. Only this depth of understanding allows the establishment of proper didactic approaches, in order to teach singing well and efficient, without causing harm to singers. The Freddie Mercury study, as a work of basic voice science, is also geared towards this goal. We can learn so much by attempting to objectively and empirically document the voice production physiology of a famous and great role model, rather than using highly subjective language (please see below for the proper context of the force of “hurricane”/“force of nature” quote in our

Freddie Mercury’s voice has been described as ‘a force of nature with the velocity of a hurricane’ (2), which was ‘escalating within a few bars from a deep, throaty rock-growl to tender, vibrant tenor, then on to a high-pitched, perfect coloratura, pure and crystalline in the upper reaches’ (3, p. 2). Such descriptions, while presumably adequate for a biography or a newspaper article, do not satisfy deeper scholarly interest into the singer’s voice characteristics. The purpose of this study was therefore to conduct a viable analysis of publicly available data material, in order to arrive at more empirically-based insights into Freddie Mercury’s voice production and singing style.

Dr Christian Herbst

You know, I had already been feeling bad about my comment about your work. So in way it was good to hear from you and get the chance to straighten things up.

It was a knee-jerk reaction, and, I think, mostly fuelled by the headline that had been put on the article I read, which threw the whole thing into a negative light. (“Freddie’s voice wasn’t 4 octave”, etc) .

Now, with my experience, I ought to have realised that NONE of us have any influence over newspapers putting things in a negative way … it’s a real scourge, and allows them constantly to distort people’s perceptions of the truth. I can see that your intentions are good, and that the work is sound.

So … well, I’m happy to remove the comment altogether. And I apologise sincerely for the slur – and for adding to an already upsetting media experience for you. I understand your feelings very well.

I guess I didn’t get this far without realising that it’s decent to admit when you’ve made a mistake. And I can now see that I did in this case. With your permission, I’ll publish this answer on my Soapbox so everyone can see it. I’d like to publish your letter too, but I can understand if you wish to keep your message to me private.

So … to help correct the situation … may I publish a link to your original work, rather than any report in the press ?

All the very best


Freddie Mercury - Live Aid
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Young/REX Shutterstock (117529da)
Freddie Mercury
Live Aid Concert at Wembley Stadium, London, Britain – 1985

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