Here is a previous post by me on this subject which may answer your questions (but probably will just create more unanswered ones):
Rhonda: I first discovered BitTorrent filesharing about 2 years ago thanks to a taper from the Joe B. board...it can be sort of a frustrating process to get started but well worth it once you do.
There are at least two things you'll need: A BitTorrent (BT) client (I use Azureus: http://www.getazureus.com/) to download the files using the peer-to-peer connections; and a FLAC Decoder (I've used FLAC Frontend with many problems, and DBPoweramp: http://www.dbpoweramp.com/dmc.htm) with much success. All of these programs are free. You pretty much have to have a broadband internet connection too or else it will be a frustratingly slow process. Unless you already have a BitTorrent client, the file you downloaded is the torrent file itself, not the actual files. The torrent file is just sort of like a menu or a direction to the actual files.
Once you install the BT client, you'll be able to download the actual files, assuming there's still at least a few people that are sharing them...the more sharers, the faster you can download as you connect to each one. Once they're downloaded, you will need to convert the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files to a .wav file or at least an mp3 file for you to burn them, for which you can use DBPoweramp. WinAmp has a plug-in you can download that will allow you to listen to them but I usually burn and delete.
It's a bit of up-front effort, but I've found some really great stuff, Joe & otherwise, on the filesharing sites. If you want to drop me an email if you need some help getting started, feel free to e me at CarlJ at Aaaay Ohhhh Elllll dot com. I'm no expert and there's plenty of good sites that will tell you what you need to know if you look around. Just Google "bit torrent" and surf a bit.
Takers get the honey, givers sing the blues