Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the questions people most commonly ask . .

What software do you use to typeset your music ?

All these pieces are typeset using muscript, a freely copiable and redistributable Perl script which parses a text file and generates Postscript output. You are welcome to use muscript, which I wrote, to typeset your own music.

Text is typeset using groff -ms, version control is by rcs, sample pages are extracted automatically by perl scripts, and the whole typesetting operation is co-ordinated by the Unix make utility.

Why do you write accidentals to each note ?

In the classical notation convention, accidentals apply to the same notes in the same octave in the same voice throughout the remainder of the bar, and to the next bar by a tie. I don't use this convention in my compositions.

Firstly, as a composer . . .

Secondly, as a reader of music . . .

The system I use for my compositions, in which accidentals apply to the note at which they were written, but that precautionary naturals are also given, means every note is unambiguous, and reads correctly under both the classical notation and serialist notation.

The notation I use is in any case part of mainstream classical music, because it is the notation used for brass instruments, in which accidentals have always been written at each note.

Why are the pieces now being offered free ?

From February 2001, in a unique special offer to promote the new opera November at the Carousel, Peter Billam's arrangements and compositions are being made available Free, in PDF format, in a universal A4/US-comptible page size 11 inches x 21 cm. After this special promotion, the scores will be available again for their usual low prices, but until then - they're Free !

The copyright terms are uniquely generous - you may print out as many paper copies as you like and give them to whoever you want, and you may even freely perform the piece in public; you may not, however, redistribute the piece in electronic form.

Please don't miss this offer, you won't be dissapointed.

My Browser can't handle PDF files

If you're getting some message like Could not find Acrobat external window handler then you need to install Acrobat, the piece of software which handles PDF files. It's made by Adobe, and it's free. You'll need to download it from, and the last time I checked the direct link was

There's a lot of PDF files in the world, so Acrobat is worth having. If you're using Linux (or FreeBSD) then Ghostview does the same job; that's also free, and should be available on the operating-system CD.

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