Watch Philip Glass Remix His Own Music—Then Try it Yourself With a New App

We told you in the fall about the album released by Beck and a troupe of other musicians to celebrate composer Philip Glass’s 75th birthday. Rework—Philip Glass Remixed is a collection of Glass works by artists including Beck, Tyondai Braxton, and Cornelius. Turns out that Glass himself was pretty turned on by the results. In the above video, Glass plays around with his own music using an interactive “Glass Machine” app, designed to complement the album.

You can almost see the wheels in Glass’s head turning as he swipes and taps away on the screen, creating new loops with phrases from his own music.

The app that Glass enjoys so much is available to anyone with an iPad, iPod touch or iPhone (3Gs or newer) and $10. The Rework app was designed by Scott Snibbe, who also created the interactive galaxy in Bjork’s Biophilia app.


The app includes eleven interactive visualizations of remixed songs from the Rework album (example on left) and a Glass Machine, allowing users to create their own Glass-inspired music.

As Glass himself said, while playing with the Machine, “the user has become the artist.”

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‘The Ballad of the Skeletons’: Allen Ginsberg’s 1996 Collaboration with Philip Glass and Paul McCartney

Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Read more of her work at .  

Khan Academy Releases New App for iPhone & iPod Touch, Giving You Mobile Access to 3600 Videos

Non-profit Khan Academy, an organization dedicated to “providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere,” does so primarily through online video courses and lectures. The over 3600 videos are free and access is open to anyone (anywhere), allowing K-12 students to study math, science, computer science, finance & economics, humanities, and test prep. The organization was founded in 2006 by MIT and Harvard grad Salman Khan, who began by tutoring relatives and friends in Bangladesh while he worked as a hedge fund analyst in the States. His videos became so in-demand that he decided to quit his job and distribute them full-time, funded by donations from individuals and major donors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

While there is a healthy amount of skepticism about the efficacy of Khan’s methods, there’s no shortage of demand for the kind of instruction he offers to students all over the world. To further meet that demand, Khan Academy has just released an app for iPhone and iPod Touch. Unlike the app released this past March for the iPad, the iPhone version does not allow interactivity. Users can view videos but cannot, as with the iPad app, download playlists, read subtitles, and log progress, making this version “more for consumption rather than full interaction.” Nevertheless, and whether critics like it or not, this represents a further step for distance learning, as education increasingly moves out of the classroom and into the handheld devices of networks of students no longer restricted by geography or physical mobility.

The app has been added to our brand-spanking new collection: 200 Free K-12 Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Web Sites, Apps & More

Via Makeuseof

Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.

Brian Eno Once Composed Music for Windows 95; Now He Lets You Create Music with an iPad App

Now running through my speakers, even as I write this: Brian Eno's latest album, Lux. The disc offers four pieces of ambient music, a style that, even if Eno didn't technically invent it, he certainly took it to a new level of fascination and popularity. He composed these tracks — if "composed" is indeed the word — as generative music, a process rather than a style, but one he named and has promoted since the nineties. For a definition of generative music, I turn to Eno's A Year with Swollen Appendices, a book that does not leave my nightstand. "One of my long-term interests has been the invention of 'machines' and 'systems,'" he writes, "to make music with materials and processes I specified, but in combinations and interactions I did not. My first released piece of this kind was Discreet Music (1975), in which two simple melodic cycles of different durations separately repeat and are allowed to overlay each other arbitrarily."

In Lux, we have the latest iteration of that musical model. But even if this new record or its predecessors won't make your playlist, there's at least one Brian Eno composition with which you'll already feel intimately familiar. I refer, of course, to the Windows 95 startup sound. Eno describes the musical challenge as follows: "The thing from the agency said,'We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional,' this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said 'and it must be three and one quarter seconds long.'"

From that list of 150 vague words, Eno crafted 84 miniature pieces of music. You may have heard the one Microsoft ultimately went with hundreds, or thousands, of times. Obviously they've sounded the same on every play, and this very fact displeases their creator, especially when he creates with generative systems in the first place. "What I always wanted to do was sell the system itself, so that a listener would know that the music was always unique," Eno continues in A Year. "With computer technology I began to think there might be a way of doing it." Computer technology, which has come a long way since the days of Windows 95, has brought us to the release of Scape, the first generative music iPad app ($5.99) from Eno and Peter Chilvers. "The idea is that you assemble pieces of music out of sonic building blocks — we call them 'elements' — which then respond intelligently to each other," Eno says in the introductory video just above. Scape follows Bloom and Trope, the duo's previous generative music apps for the iPhone. Does it strike you as strange that the man behind such an iconic Microsoft theme now releases apps only for Apple devices? It's no big surprise: Eno even composed the Windows 95 sound on a Mac.

Related content:

How David Byrne and Brian Eno Make Music Together: A Short Documentary

Brian Eno on Creating Music and Art As Imaginary Landscapes (1989)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

Calibre’s Open Source Software Makes It Easy to Read Free eBooks (and Much More)

We at Open Culture have discovered a handy piece of software that will make it easier to use our collection, 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices. Calibre is a free e-book library management software that lets users convert e-books from one format to another.

Say that you’ve downloaded Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in the open ePUB format and want to move the book onto your Kindle. Calibre can convert the text into all of the major e-reader formats, including Kindle's proprietary format. The program will then sync the text to your device and you’re good to go.

Calibre supports e-book formats used by major manufacturers (including Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Sony), but if your device isn’t listed in the program’s list, Calibre’s “generic device” option will most likely do the job.

The program also offers a default viewer for reading texts on your computer, and books can be converted from one platform to another, making it easy to move books from your phone to iPad to laptop and beyond.

Calibre fills a niche for e-book readers, providing a simple way to manage e-libraries. The program also helps manage and organize online magazines, newspapers and other reading materials. Click “Fetch News” and Calibre will scan selected online news outlets and catalog them in your collection.

You can even buy books by using Calibre’s interface to search for the best price on a selected title.

You can download Calibre here and then start mining our ever-growing collection of Free eBooks.

Kate Rix writes about digital culture and education. Find more of her work at .

Jon Hamm and Lena Dunham Unveil The New Yorker’s New iPhone App

In 2010, when The New Yorker released its iPad app, Jason Schwartzman made the comic pitch. Now comes the new iPhone app, and it's Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture filmmaker and Girls creator) doing the honors. As The New Yorker will tell you, the new app has "every story, every cartoon, every em dash, every illustration" found in the magazine, plus extra audio and video features. Anyone with an iPhone can download this week’s issue for free. In the future, readers subscribing to the magazine in print, iPad, and Kindle Fire formats will receive full access to the mobile app. Android users, don't despair. It looks like the magazine will take care of your digital needs down the line....

Related Content:

The New Yorker’s Fiction Podcast: Where Great Writers Read Stories by Great Writers

Rare 1960s Audio: Stanley Kubrick’s Interview with The New Yorker

Stanford Launches iPhone/iPad App Course on iTunesU (with New Peer-to-Peer Learning Features)

Just about everybody these days is developing an app, right? A few lucky coders might see their work up in lights if they act fast.

Apps designed by the first 1,000 developers to register for Stanford’s new online course on iTunesU will be considered for showcasing on the university’s iTunes site.

The course, Coding Together, is based on the popular classroom version taught by Paul Hegarty at Stanford. It covers iOS 5 and focuses on apps for the iPhone and iPad platform. Sign-up ends on July 6 and the course runs until August 27. Lectures from earlier versions of the iTunesU course were incredibly popular. Some were downloaded more than 10 million times. But the new iTunesU course offers some new social networking and learning tools.

Stanford has teamed up with the social learning platform Piazza to enable students to pose questions to course instructors, other students and app developers around the world 24 hours a day. It’s a feature that on-campus Stanford students already have access to, but it’s a first for iTunesU. And it adds a whole new degree of interactivity to the iTunesU course experience.

As of Thursday afternoon, 11,065 students enrolled in the course, with signups continuing in the hundreds per day. And, collaborative study groups have spontaneously popped up all around the world -- from Silicon Valley, to Brazil and Germany, to India, China and Bangladesh.

Again, you can find the Coding Together lectures on iTunesU here, and sign up for Piazza's peer-to-peer learning groups here. We also have 50 more Free Computer Science courses in our collection of 500 Free Courses Online.

Kate Rix is an Oakland-based freelance writer. Check out her work at .

Download David Hockney’s Playful Drawings for the iPhone and iPad

Last year, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto staged an exhibit of David Hockney's playful drawings produced with/for the iPhone and iPad. Hockney became an early adopter of Apple's popular devices and started creating finger-drawn images (using the Brushes app) in 2008. Initially, the English painter only shared his digital drawings with a small circle of friends. Then he decided to make them available to the larger world, presenting them first in Paris in 2010, and then later in Toronto. Here, Hockney explains the basic thinking behind his Fresh Flowers exhibitions.

Throughout the Canadian exhibition, the ROM invited the public to download a series of free images by Hockney. They're all still online, and we've gathered them below. What will you do with them? Put them on your iPhone or iPad, of course. (Find instructions here and here.) Or whatever other device you please.



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