An important step in studying volcanic processes is to consider the coeval processes in the subjacent magma reservoir(s). The trachytic caldera volcano Longonot (Kenya Rift Valley) and the Kûngnât syenite complex (Gardar province, Greenland) are taken to represent complementary magmatic systems, providing evidence of the volcanic and plutonic stages of evolution, respectively. The systems show many features in common; they have similar sizes, experienced two periods of caldera collapse, and were dominated by trachytic magmas, with smaller volumes of basic magma. Magmatic differentiation was dominantly by fractional crystallization of basaltic parents, with minor episodes of magma mixing and, at Kûngnât, some crustal contamination of parental basalts. A model is presented of a single, hypothetical trachytic centre, showing how evidence from one complex can be used to infer processes at the other. For example, an active convective system, with formation of wall and floor syenitic cumulates, can be inferred to exist in the Longonot magma chamber. At Kûngnât, the intermittent development of compositionally zoned caps to the magma chamber is postulated and the nature of syn-caldera eruptive activity is outlined.