Independent or convergent evolution can underlie phenotypic similarity of derived behavioural characters. Determining the underlying neural and neuromuscular mechanisms sheds light on how these characters arose. One example of evolutionarily derived characters is a temporally simple advertisement call of male African clawed frogs (Xenopus) that arose at least twice independently from a more complex ancestral pattern. How did simplification occur in the vocal circuit? To distinguish shared from divergent mechanisms, we examined activity from the calling brain and vocal organ (larynx) in two species that independently evolved simplified calls. We find that each species uses distinct neural and neuromuscular strategies to produce the simplified calls. Isolated Xenopus borealis brains produce fictive vocal patterns that match temporal patterns of actual male calls; the larynx converts nerve activity faithfully into muscle contractions and single clicks. In contrast, fictive patterns from isolated Xenopus boumbaensis brains are short bursts of nerve activity; the isolated larynx requires stimulus bursts to produce a single click of sound. Thus, unlike X. borealis, the output of the X. boumbaensis hindbrain vocal pattern generator is an ancestral burst-type pattern, transformed by the larynx into single clicks. Temporally simple advertisement calls in genetically distant species of Xenopus have thus arisen independently via reconfigurations of central and peripheral vocal neuroeffectors.