The Library of Congress has a great article telling the story of America through songs of immigration and migration.
“As Europeans colonized North America, beginning with the Spanish and French in the 1500s and the British and Dutch in the early 1600s, colonists brought their cultural entertainments along with them. Songs brought to colonial America continued to be sung in their early forms, so that later scholars of songs and ballads, such as the British ethnomusicologist Cecil Sharp and American ballad scholar Francis James Child, looked to North America to find early versions of songs, and songs no longer sung in their country of origin. Ethnomusicologist Juan Rael documented folk dramas and passion plays — sung performances — that preserved early versions of Spanish religious songs in what had been the relatively isolated colony of New Mexico (modern New Mexico and western Colorado). With the development of sound recording, scholars attempted to record the earliest versions of songs that they could find, such as the ballads Child had identified. An example of a rare pre-industrial work song in this presentation is a Scottish song that women used when fulling cloth, called a “waulking” song. See “Fhillie duhinn s’tu ga m’dhi,” sung by Mary MacPhee in 1939.”
In a 2014 article, Steven Brown and colleagues demonstrate that music and genes may have coevolved by analyzing correlations between traditional folk songs and mitochondrial DNA among indigenous populations in Taiwan. “These correlations were of comparable magnitude to those between language and genes for the same populations, although music and language were not significantly correlated with one another. […] Music may therefore have the potential to serve as a novel marker of human migrations to complement genes, language and other markers” (Brown, et al 2014).
Read the full article from the Proceedings of the Royal Society B here: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/281/1774/20132072.short