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Freddie Mercury and breathiness

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Jeran
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Hi, all. I have a question for you guys:

I'm on a Queen bender lately, and having always been a huge fan of Freddie Mercury's, the vocals are a big draw for me. One thing I'm noticing is that in the studio, it seems to me that Freddie sang considerably lighter than he did live. While this may be true of many singers, Freddie's "breathy" tone leads me to notice this more. He seems to start phrases in a vibrant chest voice, and almost always ends them in a breathy, lighter, heady quality. It's like he's leaning into the phrase and then backs off.

For instance, in "Bohemian Rhapsody," at around the 1:00 mark in the following video, he belts a bit, but always come back to that light quality.

The same here in "Killer Queen:"

It seems like he belts in chest, and then very slightly dips into a falsetto (calling it falsetto because it sounds breathy to me) for the exhalation.

My question is this: How does one get that breathy quality at the end of phrases without hurting the voice? When I put that breathiness in my voice, at a singing volume rather than a very quiet one, I can only do it for a bit before I feel a tickle. I can be breathy in pure head voice, but trying to keep some chest quality like he does is tough. Any suggestions?

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one of my idols....although a great singer, freddie mercury recorded a lot of his songs with effects and often sang lower or ducked the high notes live. i've seen him over a dozen times. i always use live recordings to really judge a singer.

he had vocal nodules...but again, he was a great vocalist.

he had that softness at the end that i loved as well, but really didn't do it much live. that actually takes a bit of support even though it's light.

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Freddie sang a lot better in studio than live, but he still was a great live singer. I think he was stuck forcing notes live, in order to project over the band. He sang much more harshly and with more pull on chest notes. It could be that he just never learned to link his registers at high volumes.

That said, he's still one of my favorites.

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I just got to say, even though this has nothing to do with the title itself, Freddie is one of my biggest inspirations of how to be a showman and how to carry on with the show. There's way too many live videos of Queen where Freddie is freaking killing himself with both his technique and the bad shape of his voice at that moment. Still he always pulls the show off, takes the audience and ends up as a winner. Hey the man never took surgery even though he had nodules and after the hardest tours he always ended up recording absolutely epic vocals. The man was gifted with both voice and attitude.

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I just got to say, even though this has nothing to do with the title itself, Freddie is one of my biggest inspirations of how to be a showman and how to carry on with the show. There's way too many live videos of Queen where Freddie is freaking killing himself with both his technique and the bad shape of his voice at that moment. Still he always pulls the show off, takes the audience and ends up as a winner. Hey the man never took surgery even though he had nodules and after the hardest tours he always ended up recording absolutely epic vocals. The man was gifted with both voice and attitude.

i totally agree with you ollie.

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You guys are so right. "The Show Must Go On" was recorded very close to Freddie's death, and in my opinion, it's his best vocal ever. Brian May said in an interview that Freddie would start a take, and start coughing (he had pheumonia brought on by AIDS), and started to get angry at the situation. He downed a shot of vodka, smoked a cigarette (not the best idea for vocal health, but whatever), and recorded the lead vocal in one take.

If you guys haven't heard the song, take a listen. The lyrics, given what Freddie was going through, are amazing, and his vocal is just phenominal, especially given that he knew he was dying.

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freddie, to me, was a guy with a natural ability to sing, but who never bothered about learning more about it than he picked up himself. Interesting guy, all in all, and a cat nut, like me. He even wrote the song 'Delilah' about his favorite cat.

There are some 'Rainbow 1974' gig recordings at youtube now that are Queen at their very height, IMO.

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Hey Matt, I have a dog and a cat. And they get along. In fact, the cat tries to create havoc with the dog, he gives her a little chase, I call "off" and he comes to me.

I agree with Jeran. At his stage of the game, let Freddie have a cig, if it relaxes him. And a shot, which will open the sinuses, even briefly. I am not advocating either behavior and Freddie was a special case. His candle burned brightly. And we are still illuminated by his short time on Earth.

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