Plenty of people want to be able to sing like Freddie Mercury, and very few are able to come even close to matching his vocal ability. But there are some things you can do, and techniques you can practice to be able to try and imitate Freddie’s iconic vocals. So let’s jump right in!
7 Tips for Singing Like Freddie Mercury
- Master the basic singing techniques first
- Understand Freddie’s vocal range
- Learn his characteristic tones soft and raspy tones
- Master the falsetto technique
- Know when to use the rougher high notes
- Utilise vibrato
- Use emotion in your performance
So there are several things you need to keep in mind when attempting to sing well, and these apply no matter who you are trying to imitate.
- Sing from your diaphragm as opposed to your throat.
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back and relaxed and your weight slightly resting on the balls of your feet.
- Warm up your voice properly.
Freddie was able to produce such a powerful sound when singing because he was confident and trusted his ability to reach higher notes and also because he was able to sing using his chest properly. If you want more advice on proper singing technique, then check out our post on the 5 ways to improve your singing performance today.
If you’re into singing, then you’re probably aware of the main voice types, which are categorised according to the vocal ranges they fit into. There are 6 common voice types: bass, barritone, tenor, alto, mezzo-soprano, and soprano, with bass being the lowest and soprano the highest.
There is some debate as to whether Freddie Mercury was a baritone or tenor. However, it’s generally agreed that Freddie had a tenor voice type. This means he was pretty much in the middle of the voice types. So if you fall into a similar range, then you’re likely to have more luck trying to imitate Freddie’s singing.
It is worth noting that Freddie Mercury did have exceptional 5-octave vocal range, so even if you have a tenor voice type, you” probably struggle with more challenge notes at both the low and high end of the scale. He was also able to move around very well within this range which is a difficult skill to master.
There are several different styles Freddie used to sing that allowed his voice to sound so different, yet so characteristic of his performances.
Soft Whisper Tones
You may notice that when Freddie starts a lot of songs, he has a softer tone to his voice. This is particularly evident in the intros to “Don’t Stop Me Now” and also “Bohemian Rhapsody. If you’re trying to imitate Freddie Mercury’s Performances, then you need to master this breathy style of singing. Relax, and try to sing from your chest and avoid letting the origin of your voice rise into your throat as much as possible.
The next tone that is characteristic of Freddie’s styling, is the raspy rock-voice that kicks in later in the song, for example on the lyric “so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye” in Bohemian Rhapsody around 4 minutes into the song. This is characterised by rough sounding high notes and exaggerated vibrato, more on how to do this later. You need to be careful about not going overboard with this style of singing as you could easily damage your voice by pushing too hard.
As I have just said, Freddie had a tenor voice type. However, we all know he was capable of hitting incredibly high notes. So how did he do this? Well, this is know as falsetto. It’s a method used by tenors to be able to sing notes that are higher than their usual vocal range, without really increasing the volume, which is what you would naturally tend to do.
To do this you need to have completely relaxed and open breathing. Rather than pushing for that high note, it needs to be more of a sigh and sound airy. A way to try and do this is rather than pushing your voice from your chest, you should try and feel like your pulling your voice in from above. Try singing with this in mind on the very high notes where this falsetto technique is used to get more comfortable with it.
Rougher High Range
Due to Freddie’s vocal ranging, you may hear some raspy and rougher high notes in some of his live performances when he is not using the falsetto technique.
When he pushed his voice up to these high notes, he tended to get louder and more rough. This is characteristic of his live performances, but not of his studio recordings. So it’s up to you which approach you prefer to take.
It is generally a lot easier to push and produce raspy high notes than have the more relaxed and free high notes. So if you’re struggling, it may be easier for you to try and imitate his live performances than studio recordings.
Be very careful not to overdo the rougher high notes though as you could damage your voice. Make sure you don’t practice this too often and if you’re feeling strained then give your voice plenty of rest.
Freddie had excellent control over his voice which allowed him to use vibrato to enhance his singing performance. Vibrato is used at the end of some longer notes and is characterised by a regular pulsating change of pitch, almost like a controlled shaking.
To do this, you must be completely relaxed. That means both your breathing and also your muscles including your jaw and chest. Try widening the back of your throat whilst still being relaxed to warm up, by pretending to yawn. To sing vibrato you need to make sure that your voice is coming from your diagphram and not your throat. Listen for this fast regular oscillation in pitch as you are completing longer notes.
This is a technique that you need to practice to try and develop. You can use apps like Spectrogram which will show the changes in pitch to help you know if you’re singing with vibrato. But you most likely will be able to hear it yourself.
Once you have mastered the vibrato technique, you can use it to sound more like Freddie Mercury. He was noted to be able to perform this technique very quickly by make the pitch changes rapidly. So keep this in mind when trying to mirror his vocal technique.
Although most of Freddie’s singing was completely talent, and consequently, very difficult to imitate, his performance style can be copied to some extent. You need to make sure that you’re in touch with the lyrics and put your emotion to be able to pull out a convincing Freddie-styled performance.
The emotion in Freddie’s performances explains why in some of his live shows, the higher notes become raspy and a bit rough. This happens when you really push and put a lot of effort into your singing. As opposed to the falsetto technique which requires a more relaxed approach.